2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 20 JULY 2021
SUBJECT: Car Park Rorts, lockdowns.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Catherine, good morning.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Good morning, Marcus.
PAUL: Now, why is it that under this current government we have seen gross mismanagement of public funds. It’s not the Liberal or National Party’s money, it’s Australian taxpayers’ money. We pay a hell of a lot of taxes, we’re one of the most overtaxed nations on this planet, I would have thought a fair and even distribution of that funding was, I don’t know, democratic?
KING: Well, you would think so, but clearly the government has now decided that this is Liberal Party money and they are a Liberal Government and they will do whatever they want to do to make sure that they win an election. It is pretty clear now that they basically do not care and they think they can get away with it, and they’ve been getting away with it. With Sports Rorts at least there was a process, people were allowed to apply, this one there was a spreadsheet, here’s the 20 top marginals, between the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister Tudge’s office. The Treasurer put in a bid for some, Angus Taylor, the Minister for Energy, said look, I’ll have some of that as well thanks very much. Basically, they just all decided this is what’s going to happen. So we end up with 47 car parks announced, 87% of them in Liberal Party and target seats, literally just before the 2019 election. So, all those commuters who might need car parks in Labor seats or in seats held by independent, who are stuck in a commute, you don’t get a guernsey in this program.
PAUL: Catherine, the irony is that some of these car parks weren’t even built, and the ones that were built were built at ridiculous prices. I talked about Peter Dutton’s car park pork barreling up there in Queensland, $87,000 a car park space by the time this thing is built. I mean, honestly.
KING: Exactly, and that’s the problem. Because there’s been no proper process, they haven’t spoken to council, haven’t spoken to state governments and haven’t said, where can we put these things, where is the congestion, where are they needed, they’re now in this ridiculous situation. I think they’ve only managed to build two of them at all. They’ve had to cancel five of them. I went to one in Victoria in Balaclava where there was no land available for it at all. And then when they are having to build them, so the one I think at Woy Woy, it’s now over $200,000 for every single car park because basically it’s not going to work there in the way in which they originally said. They budgeted $15 million for this thing. So again, because of all this failure, now taxpayers potentially are going to have to chip more money in or the program is not working. And again, this is a government that just thinks it can get away with it. It does not care that this is how it spends taxpayer money and I’m saying loudly and clearly, don’t let them get away with it. This is not okay, it is now beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. And they deserve to get punished for it at the next election. It is just ridiculous.
PAUL: What is an overall figure of the amount of money that was spent on the car park rort? What is it, the Urban Congestion Fund? What a great name.
KING: So the Urban Congestion Fund, which was announced in the 2018 Budget, so these are budgeted funds, it’s already been appropriated, it’s not just an election campaign or we would like to do this, it is a budgeted, appropriated funds. It is $4.8 billion.
PAUL: That’s a lot.
KING: Exactly. This is a $600 million component of it. There is over $2.3 billion, literally sitting in the budget, waiting for them to announce at the next election campaign, you can see what they’re going to do.
PAUL: That’s it. That’s what’s going to happen again whenever Scott Morrison pulls the trigger on the next federal election. We know that they’re behind now in the polls. What better way than trying to, you know, spruce up your local electorates, those that are marginal, those that you are struggling in, then I don’t know, getting into this Urban Congestion Fund and pork barrelling money into seats to buy votes. That’s effectively what it is.
KING: Yes, it is exactly what it is. It’s exactly what they will do with it. We do call it Sports Routes on steroids. The lesson they seem to have learned from Sports Rorts is, don’t have any process, that’s what they seem to have learned. Not that this is actually unfair or you’ve made all these clubs put in applications and there’s lots of need out there actually let’s never look at it. Instead, they’ve just said oh, let’s not have any process at all, we got damned because we had a process, let’s not have one at all, let’s just have 20 marginal sales and the Prime Minister’s Office and Tudge’s office will decide who gets to sign off on it. That’s basically what this looks like, this is what’s happened, and it’s simply not fair. It’s not fair to those communities, largely, where congestion is often worse. They should have an opportunity to transparently bid for these projects as well, or at least to be consulted over whether, you know, this is needed in their community,
PAUL: Just on another issue Catherine before I let you go. Down in your neck of the woods, Ballarat of course in Victoria. Dan Andrews announced late yesterday that they would most likely be an extension to the lockdown there. How people feeling in Victoria at the moment?
KING: I think we’re okay, you know, and our hearts really go out to you. We so want you to succeed in New South Wales, we know how awful this is having been through a 112-day lockdown around this time last year. I think we feel pretty confident and the numbers are looking okay, that we can get control of this, but we really want them to succeed. None of us want the lockdown extended. I was home-schooling all day yesterday. It’s exhausting, frankly, hard to work, it’s stressful, all of those things. But I think most of us get it, because we’ve been through this before, I think we’d rather get it get it under control than open up too early frankly. That’s just most people’s view, there’ll be people who differ a bit from that, but I think we’re managing and surviving okay. I wouldn’t want it to be too long and we’ll hear today just how long that’s going to be. I suspect it’ll be, maybe, another week but hopefully it’ll be shorter than that. Our hearts do go out to everyone in New South Wales. We get this, this shouldn’t be one state against the other, or any of those sorts of things which unfortunately our Prime Minister tried to pit us against each other during the lockdown last year. This is really about, you know, we want you to succeed. We need you to succeed and every single part of us desperately wants people to be okay and the message from Victoria loudly and clearly is that, you know, you’ve got this, stay the course, really look after yourselves and we’ll be there at the end of it cheering you on all the way.
PAUL: Good to chat. Thank you, Catherine for your time.
KING: Good to talk to you Marcus.
CATHERINE KING – TRANSCRIPT – RADIO INTERVIEW – 2SM – TUESDAY, 20 JULY 2021