PRIME MINISTER: Well that was exciting. That rig was what I would call a big unit, I thought that was very exciting. I also want to thank Gladys Berejiklian for the great work we’ve been doing together as a state and a Commonwealth. I’ve already made mention in my earlier remarks about the former Prime Ministers and their role in bring us to where we are today and Paul Fletcher the former Minister who did so much great work in this area. Stuart, it’s great to have you here with us today, a champion of Western Sydney. So why don’t we just go straight to questions?
JOURNALIST: Where is the Premier, Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: She is represented today by the Minister. Today is a Commonwealth Government announcement, that’s what we’re doing here today. So I’d have to refer you back to her office.
JOURNALIST: But she was coming today, did she pull out late?
PRIME MINISTER: I’d have to direct you to her office.
JOURNALIST: There’s obviously talk about a Liberal spill in NSW. What do you think the likelihood of that is?
PRIME MINISTER: I’ve got no idea, I’m not in the NSW Parliament. I don’t stick my nose in other parliaments’ business.
JOURNALIST: It is a bit bizarre though that she’s not here, such a massive piece of infrastructure for NSW.
PRIME MINISTER: I think today is a very exciting day for Australia. What we’re announcing today is the Commonwealth kicking this project off. You’re on the Commonwealth site, and it’s the Commonwealth Government’s initiative to get this happening. Over $5 billion invested in making this happen, and it’s great to have Stuart here who has been a champion of this project for a very long time.
JOURNALIST: Why has it taken five decades?
PRIME MINISTER: Because frankly, people kept kicking it down the road for too long and our Government didn't. People talked a big game on Western Sydney Airport for years and years and years. And our Government stopped talking and started doing and that's what we've been doing for the last five years, is getting to this very day. We started right off the blocks, we had to resolve the initial issues around who could do it and in what circumstances and we were able to resolve that. Then we got the Corporation together, and then we got moving and today, we've been able to get to this point within five years of being elected. I think that's a real testimony to our determination as a Government over that period of time to make Western Sydney Airport a reality.
JOURNALIST: There's been a lot of issues with it, noise, transport; are you confident that you’ve sorted out all those issues around it?
PRIME MINISTER: Many of the issues will still require a lot of close community consultation and working together. But you know, it's a huge project and huge projects require you to work through a lot of issues. We're not scared of big projects, we're not scared of investing in the nation's future. We're absolutely passionate about it. So we will take on all of those challenges. Others in the past have run away from Western Sydney Airport because it was all just too hard. Our Government has actually been committed to it from to get-go. We're making it happen. This is a reality. This is actually now finally happening. I mean, this issue has been around longer than I have been living on the planet. And you know, it's great to see this happening. Maybe it took a Gen-Xer to finally get us there. But look, everyone has been involved in getting us to this point in our Government over the last five years. And it's so exciting to now see these dozers moving. 22 million cubic metres of earth is going to be moved around on this site and I think that’s tremendously exciting. For all who believed, all who had a vision about this, that vision is now a reality here in Western Sydney.
JOURNALIST: It's a big deal for a Prime Minister to be here and do this. 2026, I suppose you would love to cut the ribbon then?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm just excited it's happening. I really am. Because as I said in my earlier remarks, I have had an interest in seeing this happen since in early 1990s when I worked in the tourism industry. I have always known how important it is. I’ve also known how important it is representing a part of Sydney that I’ve seen an airport there over many, many years become the heart and soul of its economy. I know what can be achieved here for the Western Sydney economy, because I know what it's achieved in my backyard in southern Sydney. This is the biggest game-changer I think for the city of Sydney since, you know, we built the Harbour Bridge. That’s how big a deal this is.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that people are going to get here? The Federal Government has committed to half the train line to get out here. Do you think people are actually going to be able to get here?
PRIME MINISTER: We'll have more announcements about what we’re doing in all of these areas. We're totally committed to the success of this airport and what is required to make it a success. That is a constant, daily project. To make it work. Now we're committed to making it work. We're working with the State Government who is committed to making it work. We're committed to others who are here, the councils and others who are making it work. Not far from here, if you go down to Liverpool, Western Sydney University has actually built a vertical campus in Liverpool because of this. The reason they decided to go and invest in Liverpool was because this was happening. That's what I mean by game-changing, city-changing infrastructure investments. It is leading investment right across Western Sydney and the other infrastructure will come. It will be planned and provided and done in partnership because everyone is committed to making this work. And there will be people who will complain along the way, and there will be people who will raise concerns and that's fair enough. There will be concerns and there will be complaints to be addressed, but you don't stop. That's how great cities are built, by doing this.
JOURNALIST: You talk about progress, in six weeks, the polls are out today, you have made some progress there.
PRIME MINISTER: I'm just sticking to my job mate, basically. My job is to ensure that our Government continues to deliver a stronger economy, to guarantee the essentials that Australians rely on, to keep Australians safe, and importantly, to keep Australians together. This project here, I think, is going to tick all three of those boxes. It will bring people together here in Western Sydney, as Tudgey was saying, and I know that Stuart is passionate about this as well, to be able live, work and play here in Western Sydney. Not to have to be on that commute into the city. I mean, that's how the city is being reshaped and what the State Government is doing up around in the north-west as well, they’ve got the south-west, all of these corridors for growth, and I know what Alan is working on, particularly down in Melbourne, where there's similar growth corridors where we have to plan for that. In south east Queensland, massive challenges that we have, but our investments in the M1 and north of the Bruce Highway as well, coming out of Brisbane, you know, this is a Government that understands what you need to do to make our cities work better.
You bust congestion. You build the infrastructure. You manage the population growth and make sure it gets to the places where it needs to and doesn’t apply the pressures where it causes concern on services. So that’s what our Government is doing.
JOURNALIST: On your point of sticking to your job, the ABC has made a big change in terms of jobs there. What do you make of the change at the top?
PRIME MINISTER: Well the ABC Board, that’s their job, to decide how well that show’s being run. They’ve made a decision about that and it's for them now to go through the process and recommend a new appointment.
JOURNALIST: You give a lot of funding, have you asked for a “please explain” as to why they booted out the MD?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I spoke to the Communications Minister last night who advised me about the decision of the Board. Let's not forget, they're an independent board. It's their job. It’s their job and they will need to have gone through all the proper processes to make the decision they have. I want to see an ABC that's strong and doing its job and that's well run and the Board does as well, that's what they’re responsible for. I’ll hold them to account for that.
JOURNALIST: On Newspoll, it says, look, you’re not going to win, but it says that you’re making some ground. I mean, are you pleasantly surprised by those findings today?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve always thought Jen’s pavs were popular, but you know clearly they were more popular than I thought.
JOURNALIST: The board said that it wasn't in the best interests to keep Michelle Guthrie in the job. Do you agree with that assessment?
PRIME MINISTER: It's not for me to agree or not agree, it's their job. They’ve made their decision and they're responsible for it.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Financial Review is reporting that members of big business had dinner with Bill Shorten the other day or the other evening. Do you see this as a sign that they perhaps believe you're not going to win the next election?
PRIME MINISTER: All I know is that if Bill Shorten is Prime Minister, everyone is going to be paying higher taxes. The economy will not grow as strongly. What I do know about Bill Shorten is he thinks he's already got the job. Bill Shorten thinks he is already there. He's strutting around, whether it’s Melbourne or Sydney or Brisbane or anywhere else around the country, as if he's already in the job.
I have no such arrogance or complacency, I know of the big task that’s ahead of me and my team. But I do know this; our Government has been delivering a strong economy, which means we can do things like this. You don't get bulldozers moving and earth-moving equipment, whether it's here or on the M1, or up in Brisbane or out on the Monash Freeway where we’re looking to have those projects, or over in Western Australia. You don't get this happening, unless you're running a strong economy.
Last week, our AAA credit rating was upgraded, in one of the toughest periods of time as a government we’ve ever had, to ensure we retain that AAA credit rating. I mean, 70 to 80 billion ripped out of the Australian economy on the other side of the mining investment boom, enormous pressure on the national finances as we brought the Budget back into balance projected for next year. This has been a big task for our Government and we've been getting about that big task. We have been able to retain the AAA credit rating.
It’s something the Labor Party said you couldn't do. In fact they seem to be wishing it on the Australian economy, that it would go. But we were able to retain it through our strong financial management.
We are keeping Australians safe, we are keeping Australians together and that's what we're saying to the Australian people. We'll continue to say that from here to the next election and they will decide. But Bill Shorten has already decided that he's in the job, that’s the way he’s behaving.
JOURNALIST: Last night Julie Bishop aired, there was an interview with Julie Bishop that aired, talked about the civility of Question Time. Do you agree with her, will you consider changing how Question Time operates?
PRIME MINISTER: Ultimately they're matters for the Speaker. I thought the Speaker last night provided I think, some good responses and some good measured comments, as Smithy always does. I think Tony Smith has been an outstanding Speaker of the House of Representatives. He's well-respected right around the chamber. I thought it was interesting in the piece last night that they were able to bring in the strawberries bill, which showed that for all the to-ing and fro-ing, we were able, last week to get a bill through the House in about 36 hours, to deal with an issue of real concern to Australians.
I mean farmers, strawberry farmers particularly up there in Queensland but in other places around the country, were having their livelihoods threatened. We had mums and dads worried about what they were putting in the schoolkids’ lunches. We were able to act swiftly and get that through the Parliament in about 36 hours. I thought that was the Parliament doing its job.
So of course, there's going to be criticisms and there's going to be sledging of the Parliament and all of that. People will write lots of articles about it. But when it really mattered last week, when the strawberry farmers of Australia and the mums and dads of Australia needed our Parliament and the Government to step up, our Government did. I thought that was a good demonstration of the Parliament and the Government at work for Australians.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, we were expecting to see Marise Payne here today, she's been an active campaigner against the airport. So what has changed?
PRIME MINISTER: Marise is of course an active supporter of the airport.
JOURNALIST: Well no, according to articles and reporting?
PRIME MINISTER: I‘ll tell you who hasn't been for the airport; the shadow treasurer has been against this airport. The Member for Chifley has been against this airport. There are many Labor members of federal Parliament who have been against the airport. That's for them, they can explain that to the people.
But today is not a day for that. Today is a day to say; "How good is this? Welcome to the future of Sydney.” We're really pleased to be stepping up and doing our part as a Government. Our Government has delivered on our promise to get this project off the ground.
We keep our promises. We're going to keep keeping our promises and demonstrating to the Australian people that we’re right there for them, we’re on their side. You only have to look around at whats happening here today to see just how true that is.
So thanks very much for your attention, a great day. Cheers.
TRANSCRIPT REMARKS, WESTERN SYDNEY AIRPORT
Today, doubt and uncertainty ends. Construction begins on the new Western Sydney International Airport. It’s a momentous occasion, an historic occasion and one which we are very proud to be marking in the presence of our national leader. So with that, I’d like to pass over to the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Scott Morrison, to mark this occasion with a few words.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much Paul, and Uncle Gordon can I also acknowledge the Darug people, elders past and present. Can I also acknowledge my colleagues who are here today, particularly Stuart Ayers, the Minister for Western Sydney, an absolute champion of the west here in Sydney and I know this is a very special day for you mate and for all of the people of Western Sydney. Alan Tudge, the Minister for congestion-busting amongst many other things, but that includes these big projects.
How good is this? This is an exciting day. Welcome to the future of Sydney. That’s what we’re seeing here. Our Government is into big projects, and there are few projects bigger than this one. This is a project that will determine the future of this wonderful city that I have known all my life. When I look out on these hills, and I think back hundreds of years ago, and when other people look west and they look north and the look south and they saw the potential of this incredible city and they went out and they started creating it. And that’s what’s happening here.
Our Government has been committed to this since the day we were elected back in 2013 and before. My own involvement in this project goes back to pre-1996 when I was in the tourism industry and we knew the importance of this project for our national tourism industry. Not just our New South Wales tourism industry but our national tourism industry. This is nation-building infrastructure, of course it is. It’s economy building infrastructure. It’s job-creating infrastructure. It’s city-shaping infrastructure. This will be a significant boost to Australia. It will make Australia even stronger. It’ll keep our economy even stronger, which means that our economy will be able to support the essential services the people of Western Sydney rely on, the people of Sydney, the people of Australia rely on. This will be a piece of economic infrastructure that supports our economy, that supports all Australians from one end of the country to the other. Some 27,000 jobs.
But building, as the NSW Government knows, to an aerotropolis that is supporting 200,000 jobs. The groundworks which we’ll see commence today – that engineering feat of its own will be significant, as these dozers really get to work in the months ahead. You’ll see that work taking place. So it is a tremendously exciting day. I’d like to pay tribute to those who have gone before Alan and I, particularly the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister Paul Fletcher who did some very heavy lifting for the Commonwealth Government in this area and of course Tony Abbott before that and Warren Truss who had a big involvement in these projects.
We keep our promises as a Government and this has been a big promise. This isn’t the only nation-building infrastructure we’re engaged in. Snowy Hydro 2.0 of course, big energy infrastructure. But of course the Tulla Rail Link down in Melbourne. You know it was almost 50 years ago the last time we built a seriously big airport in this country? It was Tulla. Here we are out in Western Sydney today, kicking off the next one. It’s about time, I think as we’ve all felt about this. It’s about time and we’re very pleased to be here today to kick this off today.
I want to commend everyone who has been an advocate for it, everyone who has worked in it. I want to thank the local mayors and the local councils who have been so supportive of this project. I want to thank those who have been out there advocating in the media and winning the argument which said ‘this had to be done’. Now it is going to be done.
I think that’s something all Australians can feel very proud about.
So with those few words Paul, probably a few more than I’d planned but nonetheless, I’m going to hand back to you and I’m looking forward to giving the radio signal to get this going.
How good is this? How good is this?