STEVEN CIOBO: I'm really excited that we've got here today more than a hundred businesses interested in investing in Australian, investing Australia's agritech space. Australia's known around the world for producing clean and green quality produce. And the Commonwealth Games are the perfect opportunity to showcase what Australia can export to the world, build on our export market competitiveness, build on the best market access that we have to major markets like China, Korea and Japan to grow Australian exports. What better place to do it than the Gold Coast? It's renowned as being in many respects the embodiment of the clean and green aspects of Australian culture so really pleased we've been able to pull together so many businesses around exporting Australia's quality food and produce. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Obviously the M1 announcement today is good news for Gold Coasters?
STEVEN CIOBO: Look, terrific news for the Gold Coast. The Coalition has delivered once again, putting $1 billion on the table, for the widening of the M1. This will be a very major step forward both addressing issues around M1 congestion from Varsity Lakes south down to the border as well as the chokepoints that we see around Daisy Hill for example. The Coalition has continued to invest in the M1. Make no mistake, it was the Coalition that put money down to widen the M1. The M1 was widened in my electorate a number of years ago, we put additional money down for further widening to the south in Karen Andrews' electorate, and of course it was the Coalition that built the original M1 so I would call upon the State Government to step up to the plate, let's see them put their money where their mouth is. There's a long track record of providing 50/50 funding for the M1, of course we'll have more to say about this this afternoon but really delighted with the announcement that's coming today, about the money that's on the table for the M1.
JOURNALIST: What happens if the State Government doesn't come to the table with the dollar match?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well I think if the State Government doesn't step up it'll be on their heads. Gold Coasters have made their voice loud and clear, they want this M1 congestion to be fixed. We know that the M1 is a complete car park from time to time now, that's why the Coalition, in addition to the $200 million that we announced at the last federal election, is putting another billion dollars on the table now. There's no excuse for the State Government not to step up to the plate. We have a long and rich track record of providing funding for the M1, we recognise it as a major arterial road for the Gold Coast in terms of an economic artery, and I want to make sure as indeed all of the Federal Coalition members do, we want to make sure that this road continues to meet the demands that are placed [inaudible] in the years ahead.
JOURNALIST: We're just back to the same old argument aren't we though, I mean I remember hearing you say the same thing two years ago when we had these discussions about [inaudible] it's the same thing?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well the simple fact of the matter is that the Federal Coalition Government has money on the table, so it's not the same thing. We continue to put money on the table, we've put another billion dollars down. We've put money, $200 million at the last federal election. We widened the M1 in my electorate as I said a couple of years ago. We put $455 million down for widening back in 2007. The Coalition built the original M1. No one can question the Coalitions' commitment to the M1, to making sure this vital artery between Brisbane and the Gold Coast stays up to date with the demands that are placed upon it. The only party that's dragging its feet continues to be the State Government. This can be resolved very simply. State Government just turns up and says "Yes, we're committing a billion dollars", then we know we've got two billion dollars ready to go, to get this road fixed, and that's what we need to focus on doing.
JOURNALIST: But some people might say that over, across the border in New South Wales you funded the road to be 80% as federal road, near Byron Bay 80/20 funding, federal government 80%. You get across the border in Queensland and you are only going to give 50%.
STEVEN CIOBO: You know it's extraordinary that we continue to see the ongoing myth in relation to M1 funding, which the only, frankly, the only people that put this forward is the Australian Labor Party. The simple fact is that there are differences in how the national highway, in this case, the M1, and its roads south of the Pacific Highway is funded. In regional and rural areas, the funding mix is 80/20. But in urban areas, the funding mix is 50/50. That's why, originally under the Peter Beattie we saw 50/50 contributions to funding, it's the reason why we have seen on every major announcement on M1 funding, 50/50 contributions to funding. Unfortunately, we have a State Labor Government that's near $80 billion in the red, frankly has squandered so many opportunities with respect to careful economic management and now Queenslanders are paying the price of a State Government that can't manage its books. The Federal government can manage its books, we've turned Australia's debt story around. We're on track to get Australia back into a budget surplus position, and the dividend now flows to a city like the Gold Coast because we can put a billion dollars down on the table to improve the M1, to stop it being a car park, to make sure it continues to grow to meet the growing population demands of Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
JOURNALIST: If the State Government doesn't come up with the money, can this go ahead in part, or is it, you know, [inaudible]?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well the great challenge of course for the federal government is that we don't execute these projects. We provide funding for these projects, we are providing now another billion dollars to this project, ultimately though, the actual execution of this project comes down to the State Government. So sometimes they unfortunately hold a gun at the head, not of the federal government, but at the head of Gold Coasters, because the State Government says "Well, if they're not prepared to put the money on the table, the project doesn't move forward." And that is the great injustice that potentially could be visited on Gold Coasters if the State Government doesn't step up to the plate now and provide the matching funding to make this project move ahead.
JOURNALIST: Mark Bailey says he heard about this by reading the newspaper like everybody else and nobody from the federal government gave him a call to let him know [inaudible], why is that?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, I don't think that Mark Bailey needs to be notified about what the federal government's doing ahead of time. State Governments frequently make announcements at their own behest. What Mark Bailey should be doing instead of acting like a spoilt prat, is actually welcoming the billion dollars that we've put on the table and say that the State Government is going to step up. I mean, does he really care that he wasn't part of the Prime Minister's announcement? Does it really matter to the State Minister that he hasn't got a minute in front of the cameras yet? The simple fact is State Governments do it all the time. If he wasn't being such a hypocrite, I wouldn't mind.
JOURNALIST: But this is supposed to be a joint state and federal government project?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, make no mistake, this is federal government funding that we've put on the table. A billion dollars because we've heard the needs of Gold Coasters, we're responding to them, we're putting money on the table again as we have back in the last federal election as we did with $455 million back in 2007 and indeed as the Coalition did originally, at a state level, when they built the original M1 under the Borbidge government.
JOURNALIST: So yeah, it is a joint federal and State Government project –
STEVEN CIOBO: No this is a billion dollars that the federal government has announced –
JOURNALIST: But you need the State Government's money to finish it –
STEVEN CIOBO: The State Government needs to step up to the plate absolutely. There's a billion dollars that the federal government has announced, money that we're putting on the table, and I call on the State Government to step up to the plate, match that funding and let's get on with this project.
JOURNALIST: If the state doesn't come to the table, is that money still going to be available?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well look, it's very early days, I think the good news for Gold Coast is that the federal government has put a billion dollars on the table. We respect the fact that this is a city that has growing demands in terms of traffic infrastructure. We also need to see frankly more investment from the local city council in arterial roads to make sure that they're not just pushing all of local traffic onto what is meant to be an interstate highway. We need to say continued investment in local road networks by the city council but right now for the M1, we need to see investment by the State Government to match the billion dollars that the Federal Coalition has put on the table.
JOURNALIST: What about bringing in a private company to finish off the road? Maybe be a joint partnership with a billion dollars that you're offering as well as the private company funding the other half if the State Government don't have the money. What are your thoughts on that?
STEVEN CIOBO: Look, I think ultimately, as I said, the execution of this project has got to be driven by the State Government. We don't have departments that execute road projects, what we do, that is when I say we, the federal government does, is provide funding. We have that money on the table, now the State Government needs to execute this project. I don't mind what their approach is going to be, as long as this happens. Gold Coasters have made it clear they need this to happen, they want this to happen, the Coalition has listened and responded. Now it's up to the Labor Party to do the same.
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555