Australian Prime Minister Press Conference – Sydney 12 June

Prime Minister

Today’s breakthrough represents major progress for Western Sydney. This project will transform the way Sydney operates. For too long, everything has looked towards the CBD and towards the centre. What this airport will do with the Aerotropolis is make sure that Sydney doesn’t just look in, it looks out. It looks out to the western suburbs of Sydney, where jobs have been created through this project. But importantly, this will be a considerable boost to the productivity, livability and sustainability of Sydney. This project itself will create something like 14,000 jobs over the life of its construction. There’s more than 10,000 people already employed here, and a large proportion of those are, of course, locals, including training and apprenticeships that have been provided through this project. Western Sydney Airport is something that is a vital project for Sydney, but a vital project for the nation as well. It’s not just about the runways, it’s about what happens around the airport. If you combine Badgerys Creek Airport with the Moorebank Intermodal, what you’ve seen is a transformation in logistics, in transport, in infrastructure for this part of Sydney. And that’s why Anne Stanley, the local member here, is so proud of the jobs that are being created here. And that’s why this partnership between the federal and state government, this is a jointly funded project, more than $5 billion from each level of government has already been contributed to this project. It’s a part of the partnership between my government and the government led by Chris Minns. And it’s certainly great to once again be on the ground looking at progress with the Premier of NSW.

CHRIS MINNS, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Thanks so much, Albo. It’s great to be here with you, as well as Catherine, and Anne and my colleagues, Deputy Premier Prue Car, Jo and Paul, for what is an exciting announcement for Western Sydney. And that is the breakthrough for the metro to the new airport in Western Sydney. I think the Prime Minister is right here, if you put together the intermodal, the new airport, new metro lines, new roads, this is the opportunity place for Australia. A place for new jobs and new businesses, a place for families to move into new communities with the kind of infrastructure they need to grow and live. And one of the great things about this project is that it’s jointly funded between the NSW Government and the Commonwealth Government. We’re very grateful for that. This is an absolute game changer in how people interact with the airport, but also for the emerging communities that will spring up along this airport line in the decade ahead. You’ll see vibrant, major communities interconnected with the rest of the Metropolitan Sydney Transport Network – it’s a great opportunity. Now the NSW Government knows that we need to do better when it comes to providing infrastructure for these growing communities and it’s part of the reason, as part of the Budget, we’re announcing changes to coordination for Western Sydney. I think community leaders, local mayors, as well as businesses are sick of seeing one hand of government not coordinated with the other. Whether it’s Sydney Water and NSW Planning, whether it’s new roads that are being built at the same time as communities are springing up. So as a result of that, we’re empowering Infrastructure NSW and the Coordinator General in this state to ensure that we’re delivering roads, as well as water, as well as housing for the fastest growing part of Australia. We believe this is the breakthrough that’s required to ensure that we’ve got infrastructure with homes and jobs. And they’re the three things that the state government and the Commonwealth government are focused on for Western Sydney. New jobs, new homes and brand new infrastructure.

CATHERINE KING, MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Catherine King, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, and it is such a delight to be here today with the Prime Minister, Premier, my counterpart, Jo Haylen, Prue Car and Paul Scully, and of course the fabulous Anne Stanley, the local member here who has been such a champion for Western Sydney. Well, what you can see here is that Western Sydney is not only a great place to live and raise your family, it is going to be a great place to work. And this is really what this is about. Making sure that what essentially, as the Prime Minister said, has been a city that faced east for jobs and people would live and travel, that we are providing work here. With Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, the airport, the business precinct at the airport, and the Aerotropolis where we are here. We will see jobs here locally so people don’t have to commute a long way to actually get to their workplaces. This is a great opportunity for Western Sydney and I’m so delighted to be partnering with the NSW Government in developing Western Sydney to be that great place that we know people can not only live and raise your family, but actually work.

JO HAYLEN, NEW SOUTH WALES MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT: Thanks, Catherine. It’s fantastic to be here with our federal colleagues to deliver critical infrastructure for Western Sydney. Now, half of the people working out here on this airport link come from this part of Sydney. In fact, over 550 people were delivering those tunnels under our feet for the last year. They have moved at over 120 metres a week and the second last tunnel boring machine broke through last Friday. We are making incredible progress on this game-changing project that is not only delivering jobs right now, but will make sure that there are quality jobs here in the heart of Western Sydney into the future.

PRIME MINISTER: We’re happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask, on the Coalition’s decision to scrap the 2030 target, have any leaders of Pacific nations raised any concerns to you about that?

PRIME MINISTER: What we know is that the Pacific nations regard action on climate change as the entry fee for credibility and for engagement in our region. For places like Tuvalu and Kiribati, it is literally an existential threat to their ongoing existence. Now, we know that it reached a nadir, the relationship between the Morrison Government and our Pacific family. And since then, we have Peter Dutton who wants to be more right wing, more conservative, more anti climate change action than Scott Morrison. It was the Coalition Government that signed up to the Paris Accord. And now what Peter Dutton is saying is that he won’t have a 2030 target. He won’t tell you what he will do before the election. It’s a bit like someone getting on a plane at the new airport on one of those mystery flights where you don’t know where you’re going to go, you don’t know what the destination is, you think you’re going to one direction, but you find yourself on the other part of Australia or the other part of the world and you can’t get off your flight until 2040 because that’s when the nuclear fantasy will land. If they can find a location, if they can find someone who will fund a nuclear power plant, until then you’re going to have to parachute out of the plane and take potluck at where you land. This is an extraordinary failure of leadership from Peter Dutton. It shows he’s not up to the job of being the alternative Prime Minister of this country. And just in the last 24 hours we’ve had at least five different positions put by Coalition, including Coalition Shadow Ministers like Barnaby Joyce, calling to scrap net zero by 2050. Others like Bridget Archer, calling for a target and support for their existing target for 2030. Other people just all over the shop. Whenever Peter Dutton has put out a detail of a policy, it has fallen into a heap within minutes. And that’s why he has gone now more than two years without having a single costed alternative policy to the government’s plans.

JOURNALIST: Can you guarantee you will announce Australia’s 2035 climate target before the next election?

PRIME MINISTER: I’m guaranteeing the 2030 target that we have legislated, as well as net zero by 2050. What we’re concentrating on is delivering 43 per cent by 2030, and we’ve got a mechanism to get there. The Safeguard Mechanism that was first introduced or floated by Greg Hunt when he was the Minister, but never, ever delivered. The Coalition had 22 different energy plans and didn’t land one. We have one energy plan – it’s a 2030 target of 43 per cent. There’s a safeguard mechanism for the high emitters to bring down on a trajectory of their emissions. There’s a Capacity Investment Scheme. There is the announcements that we made in the Budget, be it Solar Sunshot, Hydrogen Head Start, the production tax credits for green hydrogen and for critical minerals. We have a plan for Australia to go forward. Peter Dutton is scared of the current, but he is terrified of the future. And what you need to do is to shape that future, or the future will shape us. The world is moving, the global economy is transitioning to clean energy and Australia has a comparative advantage. We need to seize the opportunities which are there for new jobs created with new investments, particularly in our regions. Peter Dutton wants to scare that investment away and wants Australia to fail. I want Australia to succeed and I believe that Australians want that as well. That’s what they voted for, that’s what the business community are crying out for, as well as conservation groups, as well as the work that every state and territory government are doing. Including, I might say, this NSW Labor government, but the former NSW Coalition Government as well, supported our targets and supported action. Peter Dutton is isolated in the naughty corner and wants us to join Iran, Yemen and Libya as countries outside the Paris Accord and outside climate action.

JOURNALIST: China is one of the biggest emitters in the world. Will you push China to be more ambitious on their climate targets?

PRIME MINISTER: We’ll push the whole world to be more ambitious. That’s why we’re engaged in this and that’s why Australia can’t afford to just walk away. This is about our economy, it’s about our jobs, but it’s also about our environment. Since I’ve been Prime Minister I have attended natural disasters in NSW, Tasmania, the Kimberley, the Adelaide Riverland, Northern Tasmania, the Gold Coast Hinterland, Far North Queensland. We are a country that is prone to extreme weather events and climate change is making those extreme weather events more intense and more frequent. The idea that we will just walk away from any action on climate change is an abrogation of the responsibility that I have and that the Australian Government has not just to this generation, but to future generations as well.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Peter Dutton this morning signed a pledge to raise the minimum age of social media use to sixteen if elected. Will you commit to doing the same?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’re actually doing stuff. Not just, Peter Dutton signed a pledge did he today? Well, he’ll sign a different one in a week’s time because he can’t hold a position for a week. The truth is that what we’re doing is investing, and we announced in the budget $6.5 million for the process to examine how this can be done effectively. I’ve said repeatedly, as has Michelle Rowland, that we have a major issue with our young people. I know that parents on the sidelines of footy games or netball games, after school, are talking about the issue of harm which has been done to our young people with engagement in social media in a way that causes distress, that can cause anxiety. And this is something that we need a whole of government response to, but a whole of society response to as well. And that’s what we’re doing. I think someone had a question for –

JOURNALIST: For the Premier, sorry, just one more for the PM, is that alright?

PREMIER MINNS: More than that.

PRIME MINISTER: He’s enjoying this. Premiers usually like having press conferences with me because when I finish, they walk off with me as well.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Chinese Premier’s visit to Western Australia. He is visiting a lithium refinery part owned by the Chinese Government. How does that fit with your Future Made in Australia if you’ve got, external countries are owning precious metals?

PRIME MINISTER: We export resources to the world, including to China. That’s a source of revenue and wealth here in Australia, as well as contributing globally. One of the things about where Australia’s positioned with critical minerals, rare earths – if you look at a design of a country for the global transition that is going on, you would pick Australia. We have the space to have large scale solar and renewable energy to produce green hydrogen, which then can be used to produce green metals, green aluminium, green steel. We have copper, vanadium, lithium, cobalt, nickel. We have all of the minerals and resources that will power the world in the twenty-first century. Just as fossil fuels powered the world in the twentieth century led, to enormous growth and wealth, including as well our iron ore assets. So we are in a very strong position. We’ll continue to export our resources, but what we will do, and what a Future Made in Australia is about is making sure that where we can, we support industry value-adding here, moving Australia up the value chain. Making sure that instead of just exporting our resources, waiting for someone else to create jobs and then importing it back once value had been added, we do that here. Now we are in such a strong position to do that. We’ll continue to value foreign investment in Australia, and we recently announced through Jim Chalmers, our Treasurer, and I think he’s got more to say about that in a major speech he’s giving today. We continue to value foreign investment, but we want to make sure as well that we do move up the value chain. The visit of the Premier from the weekend will be important. It is symbolic as well of the stabilisation of the relationship that’s occurred. We had trade impediments impacting about $20 billion of our goods. So for our producers of barley, of coal, of meat products, of wine, and of a range of other products, that has been important for Australia to renew that trade, because one in four of Australian jobs relies upon trade, and one in four of Australian export dollars is from trade to China. I’ll hand to the Premier.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask quickly on child care. Do you still have ambitions for universal child care? Inaudible.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, we certainly do have ambition for universal childcare. And in the days when oppositions had fully-costed policies and proper announcements, I announced our fully-costed policy, two stage, in my first budget reply. And that Cheaper Childcare plan has made a difference. It’s reduced childcare costs for more than one million Australian families by 11 per cent. But we also said we would task the Productivity Commission to look at universal childcare access. Just as Labor was the party which created universal access to healthcare through Medicare, universal superannuation, we think universal childcare is something that is valuable for families but also good for our economy, because it boosts productivity by increasing workforce participation. So we will wait, I note the report today that is a positive contribution to the policy debate. We will await the Productivity Commission report. But I have said on repeated occasions that I think that universal childcare provision, as it is in a range of other countries, is something that is a valued national asset. Early education is good for children, it’s good for families, but it’s also good for our economy.

PREMIER MINNS: Is there any questions?

JOURNALIST: So here we are today, in February we had this metro line opened, flights don’t start until 2026 so about two year away. Inaudible. So, at that speed, is anything going to be here when people start catching this line, when it starts operating from this particular stop?

PREMIER MINNS: Yeah, we expect it to be on track for 2027 when the airport opens. Certainly the tunnelling is consistent with that timeframe. There’s major challenges when it comes to supply and labour, but as it stands today, we’re confident that they’ll align and open on the same day.

JOURNALIST: But at this stop here, is there going to be anything here for people when they, obviously there’s the airport and this station, but what do you think is going to be here when services start?

PREMIER MINNS: Well, look, I think people would understand that it’s not too far away. If we can get, the priority should be to open up passenger transport services at the second airport on day one. The ancillary stations will come on pretty quickly after that. You can see they’ve made major progress in the short space of time and the extensive work is all underground. I mean, it looks obviously pretty temporary up here, but down below the team’s been working incredibly hard.

JOURNALIST: What Lachie is asking is, is this a train line to nowhere? Inaudible.

PREMIER MINNS: In the years ahead that won’t be the case. And what we’ve been consistently criticised, and that’s the state government, whether it’s Labor or Liberal, is that we put the housing in, we put the families in and we don’t put the infrastructure. In Western Sydney today we’re inverting that. We’re putting public transport in and we expect major cities to bloom and grow in the years ahead.

JOURNALIST: Premier, is today’s announcement an admission that the Western Parkland City Authority wasn’t fit for purpose? And if so, why keep it around in the form it’ll be in now?

PREMIER MINNS: Yeah, I think that’s a fair criticism. For too long, we’ve had businesses and local political leaders say it’s too cumbersome, there’s too much red tape, we can’t get direct answers from government agencies about how important it is for new infrastructure to open up. So we’ve made a decision to streamline it. The Coordinator General, who’s also the head of Infrastructure NSW, is the right person to do that. He’ll also be in a position to litigate between government departments because, I’m the first to acknowledge this, Paul, as the Planning Minister, will open up new housing allotments in this part of Western Sydney, but it’s not keeping pace with, for example, water and we need to do better. This announcement today is a step in that direction.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask for an update on the London Village Strategy Plan that was published twenty-eight months ago, but it seems to have stalled in its implementation?

PREMIER MINNS: I must admit I’m not sure where that’s up to. If you don’t mind, I’ll take it on notice and come back to you. Taylor?

JOURNALIST: When are we going to see infrastructure in places where people work? When are we going to see Inaudible.

PREMIER MINNS: Well, if you look at some of the major industrial lands that are opening up in this precinct, whether it’s the Intermodal, whether it’s Mamre Road, whether it’s new or major international companies like AWS that are opening huge logistic and freight services in Western Sydney. Pretty much up and down the line, you are seeing either the intention of major companies to invest capital in this part of Western Sydney, or the building and the factory has already been opened. So that’s going to happen concurrently in the next few years. What we’re trying to do is get the infrastructure in first, which is the right order if you speak to families in Western Sydney.

JOURNALIST: With this announcement today Inaudible.

PREMIER MINNS: Yeah, it wasn’t built for purpose. I think we need to acknowledge that, and it wasn’t fit for purpose, I should say. And when something’s not working and you’ve got years of field evidence being reported back to government of either a lack of clarity about what the next step was or even conflict between agencies, something’s got to give. And we’ve made that call today.

JOURNALIST: Premier, the sector plan. So, industry’s really welcomed it so far Inaudible. They’re really happy to hear Infrastructure NSW is going to come in, draw out the sector plan. When will that sector plan be done?

PREMIER MINNS: I can’t give you a date today, but we’ve got the right person for the job. Tom, as both the Coordinator General and the head of Infrastructure NSW is the right person to drive change in this part of Western Sydney. I mean look, the bottom line here is if we can elevate above the jargon, we’ve got billions of dollars of federal and state infrastructure being spent in this community. We’ve got companies from Australia and around the world that want to invest. There’s a jobs bonanza. We need to make sure we coordinate it right. Thanks, everybody.

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