Paul Fletcher MP

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Transcript – Doorstop Interview: The Northern Road Project

Paul in the Media Tuesday, 06 June 2017

PRIME MINISTER:

Before we talk about this important step in the construction of vital infrastructure in Western Sydney, I want to say some more about the events in London, the implications for security in Australia and the circumstances of Australians affected.

The attack in London reminds us yet again, that we face a determined enemy in Islamist terrorism. It is a global threat. We fight it the Middle East in the field, in Syria and Iraq. And we fight it at home in Sydney and Melbourne, around the nation and around the world.

We’ve seen these terrorist attacks in one city after another in very recent weeks - in London, in Manchester, in Kabul, in Jakarta and Baghdad.

These criminals, these terrorists, are cowards. There is nothing heroic in what they do. Driving a car and running down pedestrians, taking out knives and slashing at people who are out having dinner. This is the work of cowardly, crazed criminals.

Now this is a corruption, a disease, within Islam.

It is a global phenomenon and it has to be dealt with globally. So when I was in Singapore, at the Shangri-La Security Conference, much of the focus of discussions was enhancing cooperation between the nations there represented, in the battle against this global threat.

Intelligence sharing is absolutely critical. Sharing intelligence about returning foreign fighters, sharing intelligence about how they spread their evil message and seek to corrupt our young.

We also share intelligence about how we respond - upgrading our response to these events, ensuring that places of mass-gathering are more and better protected. Australians have seen the result of that at public events and sporting events and concerts where there are more physical barriers to prevent vehicle access, more checking of bags and of course, a higher presence and a more visible presence of police.

We send our heartfelt sympathy to the people of the United Kingdom. We send our love and our condolences to the victims and their families. But above all, we are in resolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom and our friends and allies around the world.

We will never give in to terrorism. We will never change the way we live. We defy these cowardly criminals. We defy them and we reject the poisonous ideology they peddle - this corruption of Islam, this blasphemous corruption and defamation of millions of Muslims around the world, trying to poison that religion from the inside and threaten all of our ways of life.

Now let me speak about the Australians affected by these events in London.

As you know, there are around 130,000 Australians living in the UK at any given time and many Australian visitors, and there were many Australians in the vicinity of the attack.

At this stage we know of, we can report, that two Australians were injured, physically injured in the attack. One, a woman, is recovering in hospital. Another, a man, is returning to Australia.

There are two other Australians, so that brings it to a total of four, about whom we have very real concerns but at this stage we're not able to say anything more. We have been in touch with their families, in close touch with their families, as we seek to find greater confirmation of the circumstances of the two other Australians.

JOURNALIST:

So are they unaccounted for?

PRIME MINISTER:

There are concerns about their circumstances and we are not able to confirm, we're not able to provide any further information.

I understand your interest naturally, but we are in close touch with their families and it is not appropriate to say any more at this stage.

In terms of our response here, we are working very closely with all of our security agencies night and day to keep Australians safe.

Since I have been Prime Minister, we have upgraded our security laws so that our forces in the Middle East are able to target and kill terrorists, whatever they're doing. So they don't have to be in a combatant role. Our objective is to destroy the terrorists in the field in Syria and Iraq.

We've also changed our domestic laws, the laws as they apply domestically, so that persons who have been imprisoned for terrorist offences, can be kept in prison after the conclusion of their sentence if they are found to remain a threat to society.

Since September 2014, when the threat level was increased to ‘probable’, there have been 63 arrests on terrorism charges and 12 terrorist plots that have been frustrated. The most important tool that we have in this battle within Australia, is intelligence. That is why it is very important for our intelligence services, ASIO - working with the Federal Police and of course the state and territory polices - to be able to be alerted to these plots, as they develop, so that they can be uncovered, such as the major plot in Melbourne just before Christmas that would have seen an explosive device ignited around Federation Square. It is important that we get that intelligence early so that we can intercept these plots, disrupt them, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and the lengthy terms of imprisonment they deserve.

So it is vitally important for all Australians if they have concerns or are aware of information that might suggest that somebody is radicalised or radicalising or could be contemplating violent or extremist acts of this kind, to let our police and security services know. They are working night and day to keep us safe and they are absolutely the best in the world.

But it is a dangerous environment. We will see more of this terrorism before we see less, so, we have to be vigilant and determined and defiant.

We lead our Australian way of life on our terms. We will not buckle or bend or be cowed or intimidated by terrorism.

Let me now turn to this very important announcement here. What we've seen is - Ken Kanofski has just taken us through it - and I'm here with my colleagues, the Treasurer, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher, the Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor and of course, representing the Premier, the Member for Mulgoa, Tanya Davies.

These projects here, collectively are part of a $3.6 billion Western Sydney infrastructure program.

We're starting work now and I've turned the first sod on work on two sections on The Northern Road and on the Bringelly Road, totalling around $1 billion.

This is vitally important. It is a commitment to jobs in Western Sydney. This infrastructure development, together with the Western Sydney Airport, which we are going to build, is going to add tens of thousands of jobs to Western Sydney.

For too long, as people in Western Sydney know, as Tanya would know very well having lived here all her life, Australians living in Western Sydney have had to commute to jobs in Parramatta or further afield in the CBD itself. It is vitally important that sources of economic growth and activity are developed here.

But governments have to make decisions. They've got to invest. As Tanya was saying earlier, for many years governments- Labor governments federally and at the state level - had talked about Western Sydney, and they'd drawn lines on maps, no doubt, and there had been plans, but they had not made the tough decisions to raise the money, to find the money, to invest it and build the infrastructure.

Now, we're doing that. These are massive investments, multibillion-dollar investments over a long period of time. We are funding them. We are paying for them. We have the vision and we have the commitment.

We're not just talking about the Western Sydney Airport. We're building it.

We're not just talking about these roads, we're building them.

That is what Liberal-National governments can do.

Because we are committed to ensuring that the sinews of a strong 21st century economy - a great future for this part of Sydney where there will be more than a million additional residents over the next 20 years. A new city, in effect, the size of Adelaide, coming to Western Sydney. Great opportunities in every field - in industry, in education, in science, in innovation. All of that needs the sinews, the transport sinews of road, rail, the airport - all of that is what we're putting our money and our commitment towards.

So, I'm delighted to be here with my colleagues. It's a very important day. This is getting on with the job of delivering those 21st century jobs and 21st century growth here in Western Sydney.

So I'll ask Paul Fletcher to say some more about the projects that are getting under way today.

THE HON. PAUL FLETCHER MP - MINISTER FOR URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE:

Thank you, Prime Minister.

The Turnbull Government is delivering the infrastructure around Australia that Australians need.

Here in Western Sydney, working with the Berejiklian Government, we're delivering the infrastructure that the people of Western Sydney need.

We're building an airport and in the budget just gone, we committed $5.3 billion of equity into WSA Co which will build Western Sydney Airport.

And we are working with the Berejiklian Government to deliver the vital ground transport infrastructure so that the airport will have excellent connectivity to the rest of Sydney and the Sydney motorway network.

Now, the Prime Minister has just turned the sod on three very important projects, which form part of the $3.6 billion Western Sydney infrastructure plan.

We're at Glenmore Park just near the Glenmore Parkway and there will be over 4km extending to Jamison Road in South Penrith. Then there’s a 11km section further south along The Northern Road starting at Peter Brock Drive and about a 4km section on Bringelly Road.

This is a very important dividend of Western Sydney Airport that the road upgrades are happening now and the upgrades on The Northern Road that the Prime Minister has just turned the sod on, will be open by 2020. In some sections here near Penrith, they'll be as wide as four lanes in each direction.

So this is about providing the growth capacity that the people of Western Sydney need to move around efficiently and to make sure that the ground transport connectivity is there and in place before Western Sydney Airport becomes operational in 2026.

So we're delivering an airport. We're delivering the infrastructure that's required. And, of course, working to make sure that those works are as coordinated as possible, disrupt to the least extent possible people living along these roads but of course delivering the benefits of better connectivity.

And we're also working, again, the Turnbull Government and the Berejiklian Government working closely together to make sure that we maximise the economic and the jobs benefits of Western Sydney Airport. For example, just tomorrow, I'll be joining Stuart Ayres, the New South Wales Minister for Western Sydney, in a forum with local tourism operators where we'll be talking about how best to capture the benefits of Western Sydney Airport to stimulate tourism to Western Sydney and surrounding areas.

So the Turnbull Government working with the Berejiklian Government, delivering infrastructure in Western Sydney - Western Sydney Airport and the surrounding road transport infrastructure - and the Prime Minister has just turned the sod on $1 billion worth of investment.

I now ask Tanya Davies to make some comments on behalf of the Premier.

THE HON. TANYA DAVIES MP - MEMBER FOR MULGOA:

Thank you, Paul.

Well this morning’s sod-turning event is further evidence that it is in fact only a Liberal-National Government at the state and federal level that have the capability and have the desire to invest in Western Sydney.

I've lived here for many, many years and my community has said over and over again that they have been longing for governments to actually notice Western Sydney, to pay attention to Western Sydney. And in fact, it has only been the Liberal and National state and federal governments working together that are investing and building the infrastructure and the framework to support our families and our small businesses here across Western Sydney.

So today, I congratulate the Turnbull Government and the Berejiklian Government on their commitment to actually investing in the region that I love which is Western Sydney, to support families and to support businesses and the future that Western Sydney has.

Western Sydney is the nation's third biggest economy. And it is wonderful. It's a glorious day that is, in fact, Western Sydney's prime day to shine. That we are the region's blossoming, we are the region's economic powerhouse and this investment today just goes to prove that the Turnbull Government and the Berejiklian Government are supporting Western Sydney all the way.

PRIME MINISTER:

Great, thank you. Thank you. So some questions?

JOURNALIST:

I'll start off. What do you make of John Wagner’s claims that he could build the airport for cheaper and faster than the government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Paul may like to add to this but as far as the Wagners are concerned, who built the new airport at Toowoomba, Wellcamp Airport, we'll be looking for, as we build this airport, as the federal government builds this airport, we'll be looking for people to tender and offer to construct it.

So I can assure you that it will be a very competitive environment and I look forward to the Wagners with their track record at Toowoomba putting their hand up.

JOURNALIST:

Can we just circle back to London for a second? Your predecessor is calling for military to be at front of terrorist operations if they happen in Australia. Is that something you’ll consider? Do you have faith in the police?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have great faith in the Australian police forces and it is very important that the public has confidence in our police and our security services. We have to remember that they do a phenomenal job keeping us safe. 12 terrorist plots uncovered in the period since September 2014 - 63 arrests. They are constantly, 24-7, keeping us secure.

Now, in terms of the role of the defence force in terrorist incidents and terrorist attacks, that is a matter that is being reviewed.

There are procedures, of course, that would enable the SAS, for example, to be brought in to a siege situation. That is perfectly legal and capable. It has to be done at the request of the state government. That's a constitutional matter.

But we're looking at the procedures and protocols at the moment. It is a matter under very active consideration and in fact, I initiated it last year.

I want to say, however, that there is a view being put around that police do not have an ability to shoot-to-kill. That is quite untrue. The practice of cordon and contain, which had been used for many years, is not applied by police in situations where there is an active armed offender, an active shooter or someone with a knife, such as you saw in London. And the Australian police, presented with a situation as you saw in London, would respond quickly to disable, to shoot in other words, the assailants, just as the police officers in London did.

I'd also make another observation that I think is important to bear in mind. In the United Kingdom, most police officers, the vast majority are not armed. So the Bobby on the beat does not have a firearm. That is not the case in Australia.

So there was a heroic British police officer who was unarmed, who confronted those assailants on London Bridge and was wounded by them. Seriously wounded by them. In Australia, his equivalent would have had a firearm and would have been able to deal with them, to shoot them.

So we have a lot in common with the UK in policing and we share intelligence and practice intimately but we do have that big difference that our front, all of our front line police officers are armed.

JOURNALIST:

The British Prime Minister has come out saying that they're too tolerant of extremism and they need to change how they deal with radicalised youths. Do you think the same could be said in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we have the most successful multicultural society in the world and it is based on mutual respect.

I have to say I think we have done a better job than most countries in integrating a very diverse number of immigrants from all very different backgrounds.

The Treasurer Scott Morrison, who is here, of course, was Immigration Minister and understands this area very well and may want to add to it.

But I would say that I think that the British Prime Minister has put her finger on a very important point, that there is too much tolerance of extremist material on social media and that, ultimately, requires cooperation from the big social media platforms, in particular, Facebook and Twitter. They, of course, are American businesses, headquartered in the United States, and it is one of the priorities that we have and our friends in the UK have as we work as part of the Five Eyes intelligence community, which, of course, includes the United States, Canada and New Zealand as well, to get a more responsible approach taken to this type of material.

The other thing, the other area where we need these global social media and messaging companies to assist is in providing access to encrypted communications which are used by billions of people, of course, and applications like WhatsApp and so forth and Apple iMessenger, but our security services need to be able to get access to them.

You may recall the difficulty the FBI had getting access to the iPhone of one of the terrorists involved in the San Bernardino attack.

So we need to have a full court press against extremism, against violent extremism. But we must recognise - and I made this point in Singapore and I'll make it again - there are no borders. Nowhere is far away from anywhere else in the age of the internet.

So you might think that Syria and Raqqa are a long way away from Western Sydney. Well, in miles, maybe. But electronically, in terms of communications, everywhere is close and that is why we need much greater cooperation.

We must be as smart, smarter - agile, more agile - connected, more connected – collaborative, more collaborative, than the people who are seeking to do us harm.

They use social media and the internet very skilfully.

Nations, police forces, security agencies, need to work very closely together.

Now, within Australia, we have the great advantage, that for example, the Europeans do not have, and we're a big country, but we have a national federal police. We have a national security intelligence organisation in ASIO. We have very strong cooperation and coordination.

My Counter Terrorism Coordinator Tony Sheehan will be holding another meeting today with his counterparts and the federal police in state and territory police forces.

You know we are constantly working together as a coordinated response to terrorism but we need to do more and we will do more. We're committed to it and we need to do more internationally as well.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister – do you think that you could convince your party room to support a low emissions target?

PRIME MINISTER:

Do you want to hold that - let's just exhaust security and then we'll come to that.

JOURNALIST:

PM, just to clarify, is the government concerned  about the two additional Australians that you mentioned - is the government concerned that that they may have died?

PRIME MINISTER:

I won't go any further. I'll just say that we are concerned about their circumstances. I'm sure that everyone, you and everyone watching this understands, that out of respect for families and the individuals involved, we will be discreet and circumspect about what we say until we have confirmation of the circumstances of the two other Australians.

But, you know, this is the global environment in which we operate. We have seen Australians killed and injured in terrorist events around the world. The Bali bombing, of course, is a very, very bitter memory. The 9/11 attack. The young girl who was killed in Baghdad just the other day. Australians are all over the world at any given time. There's over a million Australians living outside  Australia in addition to those of course that travel. So that’s all I'll say on that at the moment if that's alright.

You had a question about –

JOURNALIST:

Do you think you could convince your party room to support a low emissions target?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are looking forward to the report from the Finkel Review.

Our commitment is to ensure that our energy policy is driven by economics and engineering. Not ideology, which is Labor's mistake.

You know, Labor has created a shocking state of affairs and most notably in South Australia, where, as you know, they have this huge renewable energy resource - wind - they did no planning. They didn't think about storage or back-up. So they have got a situation in South Australia where the wind farms can generate 100 per cent of the state's electricity one minute, or zero per cent the next. That's just dumb, that is just reckless, putting ideology and politics ahead of hard-headed planning.

So engineering and economics is what drives us and our commitment is to ensure working with the states that we have an energy plan that will deliver affordable, reliable and secure energy - electricity and gas - and in addition to that, will meet our emissions reduction targets in accordance with the Paris treaty. And we're on track to do that, I should add.

We’ve had to take some tough decisions already. I had to make some tough decisions about limiting the exports of gas from the east coast to ensure the domestic market was fully supplied.

Australians understand we're committed to that, we'll meet those three objectives - affordability, reliability, and meeting our global commitments to reduce our emissions as we agreed in Paris.

Thank you all very much for being here.

[ENDS]

Authorised by Paul Fletcher MP, Level 2, 280 Pacific Highway Lindfield NSW 2070.

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