Australian Prime Minister Doorstop interview – Beveridge

Prime Minister

Good morning, everyone. And welcome here to Beveridge. Today we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri people. We pay our respects to Elders past present and emerging, we pay our respects to any other Aboriginal elders that will be with us. Back in January 29th 2022 we came here with the Prime Minister and Minister Catherine King to make an announcement about the Beveridge Intermodal Precinct, and today after a Budget that has delivered tax cuts for every Australian household, budget relief through energy price savings, and it talks about a Future Made in Australia, it is so exciting to have both Catherine King and the Prime Minister with us today. So with that, I’d like to hand over to the Prime Minister and say thank you for returning. We really appreciate it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much, Rob, and it’s great to be here with you today. And I do want to congratulate you on your strong advocacy for your local community. This is an exciting project. This is a ripper. Some $900 million will contribute for the Camerons Lane Interchange, but also for associated infrastructure. This project will help drive jobs in this local economy. Some 20,000 jobs will be created as a direct result of the intermodal here at Beveridge. That intermodal will transform productivity in our nation, making an extraordinary difference. Currently, just one per cent of containers that go between our two largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, go by rail. That makes no sense. It is more productive and much more efficient and also safer for those long term haulage to occur on rail rather than road. What an intermodal does is change the game. Moorebank Intermodal in Sydney, connected with Beveridge Intermodal here in Melbourne, will transform efficiency and supply chains on the east coast of Australia, making an enormous difference to our national economy and the way that it functions. We will deliver, through the Beveridge terminal, has funding of some $1.6 billion. This is a big project, and not only will you have jobs created at that site, you have training and upskilling as well so that locals can fill those jobs. This is so important, and it comes on top of our Budget on Tuesday night. The Budget had two main objectives, firstly, dealing with the cost of living pressures that people are feeling by giving tax cuts to every single taxpayer, and secondly, by giving $300 for every household for energy bill relief, dealing with those cost of living pressures, whilst putting downward pressure on inflation. But secondly, having an eye to the future, a Future Made in Australia, of which this is a component, because it will support Australian industry, Australian manufacturing and Australian jobs. Now last night, we saw Peter Dutton reject Australian jobs, say no to Australian industry, no to Australian manufacturing, no to supporting Australia’s future. We need a Government that’s optimistic. We need a Government that backs Australians, that backs our capacity to make things here. If we seize the opportunities that are there, from a clean energy future, we can make things here in Australia, Victorians know that, because in areas like food manufacturing, in rail manufacturing, in aviation manufacturing, Victorians have been doing it here, but what they need as a Government that backs them. My Government will back a future made in Australia, and that is a major difference now that we have between the Federal Labor Government and an Opposition addicted to saying no to everything, and Peter Dutton, who has no plans for Australia’s future and nothing positive to offer just relentless and nuclear level negativity.

CATHERINE KING, MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Thanks, Prime Minister. Well, this is an incredibly exciting project, and I do want to acknowledge Rob Mitchell, the Member for McEwen’s incredible advocacy for this project, but also the backing in of the Prime Minister. It is so fantastic to have a Prime Minister who gets infrastructure and who gets freight and logistics. Can I also acknowledge James Baulderstone, who’s here with us as well, for the National intermodal Corporation, they’ll be building Beveridge. $1.62 billion that we’ve got on the table to actually build the Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal. And also Hermione Parsons from the Australian Logistics Council, who’s also here and as well as so many local councils and local people who are set to benefit from this project. We want to get this done. This is an incredibly important project, inland rail, connecting inland rail to Beveridge right the way through to Queensland, but particularly getting this section done and getting the Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal up and running. The investment we made at $900 million we’re investing in the Camerons Lane Interchange and supporting surrounding infrastructure to make sure we can get trucks in and out of this important facility. This will be a game changer for this part of Victoria. Very much over the last 100 years, really, these have been farming and dormitory suburbs, creating workers having to travel into Melbourne and into the east of the state for work. Having local jobs here, over 20,000 local jobs across this project created here 10 minutes down the road from the great township of Beveridge, and also from Wallan just up the road as well. This is a terrific project. I’m delighted to be part of it, and I want to thank Mitchell Shire Council and Whittlesea Shire Council for the work they’ve done with us on really making sure this is a reality. But really it’s been this bloke behind me, Rob Mitchell, Member for McEwen, who has been relentless in making sure that this project actually gets done.

JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton says he’ll bring net migration down to 160,000 in the next financial year. That’s 100,000 lower than your target. Is your target is your target too high?

PRIME MINISTER: What we have has been dealing with the mess that Peter Dutton left. There have been countless inquiries, including led by people like Dennis Richardson, who have recognised that under the former Government, which is under their system, is what has occurred since we came to office, those initial change. They didn’t have a system set up to ensure an integrity of the migration system. That’s why you have people allowed in without being appropriately enrolled in good quality courses with proper integrity around them. We’ve been fixing up Peter Dutton’s mess. Peter Dutton, last night, had nothing to say that was positive at all about Australia’s future, and in this as well, he’s refused to acknowledge that he was the Minister who presided over a chaotic system, a system that we are getting under control by halving the rate in the coming year.

JOURNALIST: You’ve also said you’ll cap foreign students. Is that a concession that policy settings haven’t been right?

PRIME MINISTER: Policy settings under Peter Dutton and the Coalition weren’t right. That’s the point. They had left a system where people could come in, not really attend any courses, not get any skills, reapply through appeals and mechanisms to stay here for a long period of time, and the system didn’t have integrity in it. What we’ve done is putting integrity back into the system and fixing the mess that Peter Dutton and the Coalition left.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: What we’re doing is talking to universities through the Universities Accord. One of the things we’ve done is to make sure, if universities want additional international students to participate on their campuses and that can bring economic benefit, they need to provide additional student accommodation at the same time.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: They’ve trashed Medicare. This is a guy who, when he was Health Minister in the 2014 Budget, 10 years ago, what we saw is what a forerunner of what Peter Dutton would do if ever he occupied again the Treasury benches. This was the Health Minister who cut $50 billion from Medicare, the Health Minister who tried to introduce a tax every time people visited the doctor of $7 and would have wrecked bulk billing and free Medicare forever. This is a guy who wanted to increase the cost of medicines, we’ve frozen them. This was a Health Minister who wanted to introduce a payment when you turned up in the emergency department of a hospital. Peter Dutton was the worst Health Minister Australia has ever had. He got moved on very quickly from it. This is a guy who didn’t train enough doctors, who trashed the health system. We have tripled the bulk billing incentive for people to visit a doctor. What that’s doing is seeing an uptake in the number of people who are now able to visit a doctor for free, and one of the centrepieces in our Budget again last Tuesday night was on top of the 58 Urgent Care Clinics that we have committed to and have now opened on the timeline we said they would right around the country, we’re going to have an additional 29 and what that enables people to do is to go and fix up their kids, because 40 per cent of the people who’ve been to those Medicare Urgent Care Clinics are young people. To be able to go, and if your son or daughter falls off the bike or the skateboard or you have a cut, you can go there, you don’t clog up the emergency department of a local hospital. You get the care you need when you need it, and all you need is your Medicare card, not your credit card. We’re quite happy to have a debate with Peter Dutton on health whenever he’s available with our Health Minister, Mark Butler, because Mark Butler is fixing the Medicare system, strengthening it, and we’ve done that in each of our three Budgets. Peter Dutton did more damage to Medicare and healthcare in this country than any Health Minister in a single Budget in our history.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: What a joke Peter Dutton is. He said weeks ago he would release his policy on where the nuclear reactors would be, who would pay for them, how many there would be. He said he would do that now, weeks and weeks ago, he repeatedly said he’d do it before the Budget. He lied. He lied to the Australian people. He’s trying to keep secret his nuclear reactor plan because he’s having trouble even within his own party. Angus Taylor, on Insiders last Sunday, said that nuclear reactors would have to stack up commercially. We know that they don’t. We know that it would be decades off. We know it would require billions of dollars of taxpayers subsidies, and we know that in the meantime, there would be an energy crisis waiting for this to happen. And Peter Dutton can’t put his hand up on nuclear reactors, because there isn’t a single financial institution in this country who are saying they would finance a nuclear reactor anywhere around Australia. So this is another recipe for inaction. He set his own timeline. No one made him come up with this policy. He said he would announce it. He said he’d be transparent. He’s walked away from it, and last night, he once again, had not a single costed policy. I, when I release policies, like the Rewiring the Nation Plan, cheaper child care, Housing Australia Future Fund and other policies in my Budget Replies, they were fully costed. The media need to hold Peter Dutton to account for his failure to be honest and upfront with the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: We have a right of freedom of expression in this country. That’s really important. But I say this, if people want to advance their cause, they need to be respectful, not attack others, not be disrespectful. How people demonstrate their political views is very important, and there is no place for some of the disrespectful way in which some of these activities are happening, whether it be in some university campuses or indeed outside my electorate office, where people who want to get assistance with Medicare, with Centrelink, with migration, are unable to get the assistance that they need.

/Public Release. View in full here.