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Sydney News

  • Written by Malcolm Turnbull
Navy Ship at Eden
Navy Ship at Eden


A re-elected Turnbull Coalition Government will join with the Baird State Government to develop two major new gateways to the Far South Coast of NSW.

The joint commitment to expanding the Port of Eden and redeveloping Merimbula Airport will substantially increase interstate and international tourism and trade, driving regional jobs and growth. 

The $44 million Port of Eden expansion will enable the world’s largest cruise ships to dock on the NSW Far South Coast for the first time, providing direct access to thousands of international tourists and an important stopover between Sydney and Melbourne.

The project is expected to create 86 ongoing jobs, including in the tourism, hospitality, aquaculture and stevedoring sectors. 

The $5.6 million upgrade of Merimbula Airport will enable larger planes to regularly service the Far South Coast from interstate capitals, while leveraging new international flight routes from Canberra.

These two vital projects are expected to see visitor numbers soar.

They will provide more convenient travel and freight options for local businesses and residents, as well as more reliable health and emergency services.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the expanded port and airport were important elements of his National Economic Plan.

“These vital investments will create jobs, open new markets and expand opportunities on the Far South Coast,” Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Baird said his State Government was committed to delivering services that will unleash the economic potential of regional NSW.

“This upgrade will trigger a range of benefits for locals and tourists and will not only reduce passenger congestion but paves the way for a better visitor experience, and more reliable health and emergency services,” Mr Baird said.

Member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy said the upgrade is crucial to support increased passenger and freight services.

"It is the number one economic development priority of the Bega Shire and complements the previously announced $10m from the Federal Government for the Port of Eden redevelopment".

“The Merimbula Airport upgrade is the number one economic development priority of the Bega Shire and the Port of Eden expansion will be transformative,” said Mr Hendy.

“Together, they will open up enormous new tourism and trade opportunities for the Bega Valley.”

The port expansion will include $29 million of new funding from the State Government as well as earlier commitments of $3 million from the State Government, $2 million from the Bega Council and $10 million from the Federal Government.

The work is expected to be completed by 2018.

Work is expected to commence this year on the upgrade of Merimbula Airport, which comprises $1.2 million from the Federal Government and $4.4 million from the State Government.

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Good morning. The Premier Mike Baird and I are delighted to be here this morning talking about jobs and growth. Here at Merimbula, here in Eden, $50 million is going in to upgrading this airport and upgrading the Port at Eden.

 

In each case, extending the length of the runway here enabling the size of the jets that bring tourists and passengers of all kinds to and from the Bega Shire, that capacity that the jets will be able to double. That is going to drive more jobs and growth right here in the Bega Shire right here on the South Coast here in Merimbula.

 

At Eden with funding from the Federal Government and the State Government, just as at the airport, right at Eden on the wharf we're going to see a substantial extension of the wharf that will enable the biggest cruise ships dock here at the wharf and that will bring more tourism here to Eden and here to this Bega Shire to the South Coast of New South Wales.

 

Now can I just say that every element of our national economic plan is driving jobs and growth right across Australia. A key part of that is living within our means and making sure that the investments we make in economic infrastructure here at the airport, together with the State Government, together with the local council, down at Eden at the port, once again, everything is fully funded. It's paid for. It's in the Budget.

 

Now not a day goes by at the moment when Mr Shorten doesn't stand up and as he says, with a laugh, put some more millions of dollars, or on some days, billions of dollars, on what he calls the spend-o-meter. Well Australians don't take his jokes about the spend-o-metre as funny gestures. They know that when Mr Shorten talks about the spend-o-metre he’s talking about their taxes.

He’s talking about their future. He’s threatening their jobs and the growth of the economy.

 

It's vitally important as part of our national economic plan that everything is well targeted, everything we spend is paid for and that we live within our means. That's what we're doing right throughout our national economic plan; innovation, investment, fully funded and affordable. Infrastructure, economic infrastructure like this. The big trade export deals that are driving our economy to a more diverse economy right across the country.

 

Of course with respect to tourism - one our most important exports - remember that next year is going to be the year of China-Australia tourism. We will be seeing more Chinese visitors than ever before coming to Australia, coming to the South Coast, right across the country, driving jobs and growth.

 

So I'm delighted, Premier to be here with you and our colleagues Peter Hendy, the Federal Member for Eden-Monaro and Andrew Constance, the Transport Minister of NSW and of course the Member for Bega. Both Andrew and Peter have been passionate advocates for their community here and ensure that our governments, the Federal Government and the State Government, are putting these dollars behind, carefully considered, fully paid for, to ensure more jobs than growth here in the Bega Shire.

 

PREMIER:

 

Thanks Prime Minister. Well this is an exciting day for the Far South Coast. I don't think we have seen in our lifetime such an investment in tourism here in the South Coast. These two projects together will provide great opportunities to attract tourists, not just from across the world but South Australia, Victoria, even across New South Wales and Queensland, to come down to one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The investment here at the airport, as the Prime Minister said, that provides an additional capacity for larger aircraft to come here which opens up the domestic markets in particular and the port infrastructure is very significant.

 

New South Wales just went past Canada in becoming the largest cruise ship market in the world. As that cruise ship market brings opportunities, we know those passengers, if they land, bring significant economic benefits to local communities and what we wanted to do, together with the Federal Government, on the urging of the local Federal Member Peter Hendy and local State Member Andrew Constance who have known the potential of this project if it came together. They know that by producing this we will have huge economic benefits in the South Coast. The additional cruise ships when they go from Sydney to Melbourne, what a great opportunity to stop here. Already we know that as this project goes ahead down at the port, there's up to 40 cruise ships that are planned to come and stop here.

 

Tourism is a huge driver in the local economy. As the Prime Minister said, if you have a strong local economy, that leads to a strong State economy and that ultimately gets to a strong national economy.

 

I think for too long we have ignored regional New South Wales in the sense of the opportunity for regional tourism infrastructure. That's why we established dedicated funds and we are very proud to spend that money, delivering on regional infrastructure projects that will deliver tourism.

 

As the Prime Minister said, massive opportunities in tourism over coming years. We have a competitive advantage but you need to have the infrastructure to match. Delivering alongside the Prime Minister here today and the local Members a project both here at the airport and at the port that's going to have a huge impact on the local economy, help local people's daily lives as the economy provides further strengths. It is a great day to be here with the Prime Minister in announcing such significant projects.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Prime Minister, Bill Shorten is once again ahead of you in the polls. Are you standing up with Mike Baird today, hoping that some of his popularity rubs off on you?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

We are committed to growing jobs and growth here on the far South Coast. Mike Baird and I are on a unity ticket, committed to jobs and growth in New South Wales and indeed right across Australia. We know that strong Liberal government, two Liberal governments, each with a clear economic plan for jobs and growth, that's the key to our future. That's what our opponents don't have. Mr Shorten has a spend-o-meter. That’s what he’s got. He has a plan for spending and spending and spending. And he doesn't know how to pay for it.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

On the spend-o-meter Mr Turnbull, do you as Sussan Ley has indicated want to unfreeze the Medicare rebate and abandon changes to the PBS?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Well look, can I just say to you, it is vital that, in terms of our health budget that we live within our means. We have enormous demands on the health budget and we have managed our health budget carefully.

 

Talking about Medicare for a moment, let's get a few facts clear. The Medicare payments freeze or the freeze on the indexation of the amount of money doctors get when they see someone, when they consult with a patient - that indexation was frozen in 2013 by the Labor Party. There is no issue of question about that. We have continued it as a budgetary measure. And what that has enabled us to do is to put more lifesaving - very expensive lifesaving drugs - over $3 billion worth, on to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. So now, if you have melanoma for example, if you have breast cancer, there are life-saving drugs which are now affordable and within the reach of every Australian, thanks to the way in which we've been able to manage our health budget.

 

In terms of what people pay to go to the doctor, this is where Mr Shorten is being thoroughly misleading, and he knows he is being misleading. Fact: bulkbilling has never been higher. There is over 10 million more consultations, in fact, bulkbilled now than there were in the last days of the last year of the Labor government. It is at the highest level ever. That's a fact. Second: If the indexation were to be restored from 1 July, the increase in the benefit paid to doctors would be around 60 cents. 60 cents. And by 2019-20, it would be $2.50. I'm not suggesting it isn't a significant amount of money when you add it all up, but in terms of each consultation, 60 cents is 60 cents. What Mr Shorten says is that if the indexation is not unfrozen, consultations - patients will be paying $25 more per consultation. That is complete nonsense. It is plainly nonsense, it's plainly false. He is trying to frighten people, scare people. The reality is that we are managing our health system, it's a big budget, it's very tight, we are managing it well and we’re ensuring that we are able to do many things like bring those life-saving drugs on to the PBS so they're affordable. It's like giving kids with type 1 diabetes continuous glucose monitors, again making that technology affordable. That's what you can do when you manage the budget carefully.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Just to clarify, the Health Minister Sussan Ley has said she understands the doctors' concerns and that she would like to see this freeze on the Medicare rebate lifted, but Treasury obviously says no at the moment. Her comments seem to be at odds with what you're saying because you're saying that what is in place is making Medicare sustainable.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

The reality is the freeze will end at some point. Clearly. The question is it will end when we judge it is affordable within the context of the health budget. That's all that Sussan is saying. It's common sense.

 

But the really important issue is this - are Australians receiving the best healthcare affordably? The answer is, in terms of affordability, bulkbilling has never been higher.

 

Mr Shorten's claim that if the indexation freeze continues, it will result in patients paying $20 more, is plainly false. Because, if the indexation were to be restored from 1 July, it would add less than 60 cents per consultation to what a GP receives. So he knows he is being misleading, I just have to say that again. Mr Shorten is not telling the truth about Medicare. He is trying to frighten people as he goes round the country putting more and more billions on his spend-o-meter because he doesn’t care how much he spends. He thinks he can campaign simply on spending. But Australians know that his black hole of unfunded promises is getting deeper and darker every day.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Prime Minister when would you envision those two measures being sustainable? When would you see those measures being scrapped?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

All of these measures are judged - are looked at afresh in light of the financial circumstances the Government faces every year. But the commitment to the freeze goes out until the end of the forward estimates. But as circumstances improve as we trust they will - you’ve got to remember what we have is a plan for economic growth.

 

Mr Shorten never talks about economic growth. He never talks about jobs, he just talks about spending. He goes round the country with a list of grievances. He’s the grievance man. He's got a complaint about everything and the solution is always to spend more money. Now Australians know that their security, the affordability of their healthcare system, their school system, everything we have from government, everything we have for ourselves from our own endeavours depends on a strong economy. You know that every element of my Government's economic plan will deliver economic growth. Everything we're doing is driving economic growth and jobs. That's why we are reducing taxes on small to medium businesses in the Budget from 1 July. There are thousands of people in this electorate of Eden-Monaro, thousands of people, nearly 10% of the entire private sector workforce in Eden-Monaro work for businesses turning over between $2 million and $10 million a year. They will get a tax cut on 1 July if we're elected. They won't if Mr Shorten gets elected.

 

The reality is everything he is proposing will slow growth and slow the growth in jobs. He wants to increase the taxes on investment, jack up capital gains tax 50%. You think that will improve employment? It will slow investment. He wants to ban negative gearing. Do you think that will encourage people to invest? Of course not. Mr Shorten's policy is one of one grievance after another. One spend-o-meter moment after another. The only way he can pay for them - he hasn't told us how he will do so yet - is by raising more taxes or running up more debt. Whereas everything we are doing, every single measure including these announcements today is going to drive investment and employment.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

The tax concession the politicians get on their own homes in Canberra. Labor is now saying they'll look at that. You said yesterday the rules were in place but are you willing to look at that as well?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Can I just say that I see Labor has done an overnight backflip on this. The position has been for many years that the allowances and arrangements for what politicians are paid for travel expenses and so forth, is set by the Independent Remunerations Tribunal. It is very important that remain the case. The remuneration tribunal reviews these allowances regularly and I'm sure they will do so in the future. I've seen reference to something Mr Bowen said, it seems completely at odds with what Mr Shorten said yesterday but I can assure you that it is very important that the allowances and pay for that matter of politicians is handled independently and not set by politicians.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

I asked you yesterday and you didn't answer directly, are those tax deductions and that ability to pay $273 a night in rent to a spouse as rent something you've taken advantage of personally in the past?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

I have certainly, like every politician, when I've been in Canberra, I've received the per diem allowance for being in Canberra, yes.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Have you used those tax deductions to…

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

You are talking about two quite different things.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

I am.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

The way in which the allowance works in Canberra is that Members and Senators are paid an amount per night they stay in Canberra regardless of what accommodation they have. They may stay in their own apartment. They may stay in a hotel. They can stay in an expensive hotel room or inexpensive hotel room. That is entirely their concern. That's the way the rule has operated for a very long time and I have certainly made those claims and I have conducted my affairs scrupulously in accordance with the rules that apply to all Members and Senators.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

I'm sure you are aware no party has won government and lost this seat since 1972, can you tell us how important it is to you to win this seat in this election?

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Eden-Monaro is known as the bellwether seat. It has an outstanding Federal representative, Dr Peter Hendy. Peter, of course, is a great champion for the people of Eden-Monaro and, I might say, a great champion for the businesses of Eden-Monaro too. Peter's a leading economist and, of course, he was the head of ACCI, the small business and medium business lobby group so he understands extremely well how many thousands of small businesses there are in this electorate, how many thousands of people work for businesses that will get an enterprise tax cut if we're returned to government but will not if Bill Shorten becomes Prime Minister.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

Premier, can we have a quick question to you just in relation to the Treasurer’s plan that's on the front page of The Daily Telegraph today about foreign investment. How is that going to improve the economy? Obviously you are relying on foreign investors in real estate to bring in cash to your economy if you are going to tax them more.

 

PREMIER:

 

A couple of points on that. Firstly we are in Budget season so it is not going to surprise anyone we are not going to speculate what may or may not be in the Budget. In terms of housing, what's critical is supply. That's been our focus. When we came in, the previous couple of years beforehand was 50-year lows. We are now at record levels in terms of approvals - over 60,000 the recent numbers show approvals across New South Wales. We are doing everything we can to boost supply.

 

I should also make the point in relation to the broad economy, things don't just happen. People can't just expect or take for granted that the economy is going to continue to move. What we have seen in New South Wales before we came to Government, we saw New South Wales last in economic growth, last in jobs growth, debt reach into the sky. We have turned that around. I think the important thing is we do need to keep the economy going at every single point and turn we can, every lever we are, we are trying to get the economy going. New South Wales is leading in terms of economic growth and debt is coming down. It's an important thing for the future. I make the point federally there are budget challenges you have seen. The Prime Minister has outlined - who do you trust to get them back in order?

 

There is a knock-on impact here in NSW because, ultimately, you need to keep the AAA credit rating. That AAA credit rating, if it is lost, has an impact across the whole economy. New South Wales would lose its AAA credit rating overnight if the Federal Government lost their rating. So the Prime Minister is determined to keep it. That's why both the Prime Minister and the Federal Treasurer are doing everything possible in terms of budget repair, getting us back into the position where the economy is as strong as possible. That doesn't just happen. You need to trust who you have in there undertaking it and the Prime Minister brings outstanding credentials and expertise to that.

 

JOURNALIST:

 

[Inaudible] foreign investment in real estate?

 

PREMIER:

 

As I’ve said I'm not going to speculate what may or may not be in the budget. The issue in terms of housing supply or housing affordability, how do you provide that? Ultimately, affordability comes with supply. That's what we have focused on.

 

PRIME MINISTER:

 

Can I just add to Mike's answer? It was only last week that we announced additional funding to the Appin Road going into Campbelltown – that is going to unlock 35,000 and more new homes in that area. That is a great example of cooperation between the State Government and the Federal Government in ensuring that the economic infrastructure is in place to enable the housing supply to grow. The Premier's absolutely right. The challenge of housing affordability is a very, very real one. We understand that. It has been created by a failure of previous governments, previous Labor governments in New South Wales, to keep the supply of new housing up to meet demand. What Mike is doing and his team is catching up on that. We're supporting them. The key is to ensure that supply meets demand. Then you won't see the same housing affordability pressures.

 

Thank you all very much.