20 September 2016
Transcript - #2016058, 2016

Interview with Jon Faine, ABC 774

SUBJECTS: Infrastructure, roads, Victorian Government, Port of Melbourne, Asset Recycling Scheme

JON FAINE:

Kelly O’Dwyer good morning to you.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Good morning Jon.

JON FAINE:

You’re a Victorian, you’re a minister and Mr Pallas says you’re ripping us off.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well look, I’m a passionate Victorian and I believe it’s critically important that we build the infrastructure in Victoria that Victorians need and want. That’s why I’m a particularly strong advocate for building rail under road in my particular area along the Cranbourne/Pakenham line, which affects Carnegie residents.

JON FAINE:

Let’s specifically deal with the question. The Asset Recycling Scheme – Mr Pallas says Victoria’s entitled to 15 cents in the dollar, which would be $1.5 billion, and Mr Morrison said no, you’re only going to get half.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well let me just explain what was agreed with the states. What was agreed by the former Treasurer Joe Hockey in 2014 was to encourage the states to sell assets and to get a dividend for those sales and to reinvest that dividend into new productive infrastructure. But an important component of that was that we had to agree on the sale of the asset and the price and we also had to agree on how that money was to be reinvested. The reason we wanted to agree on how it was reinvested is because we wanted to prevent the state simply doing a cost shift, so simply spend the money on –

JON FAINE:

Sure, it meets all the criteria. Mr Pallas says you were in caretaker mode, it’s not Victoria’s fault that you couldn’t get it tended to in the time limit.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well every other, NSW, the ACT, the Northern Territory, all managed to be able to close agreements before 30 June 2016. Instead, we received from the Victorian Government, a letter in April saying that thought they would be able to sell the port for around $6 billion, they wanted to invest the money in the Metro Rail, in the Murray Basin Rail and also in the Western Distributor. We went back to them and we said look, we don’t agree with the Western Distributor, but we’ll agree to the other two and we set aside $877 million for that. We didn’t hear back from them, they didn’t agree to it, we only got a letter the day before the end of the agreement simply saying from the state Labor Government, that they wanted to instead spend the money on level crossings. They have played politics with this the whole way through –

JON FAINE:

Well everyone plays politics with everything, that’s why you’re politicians Ms O’Dwyer. But this is $750 million that Victorians are entitled to from the Commonwealth, full stop, hand it over.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well no, unfortunately they didn’t actually form an agreement. We have in good faith, even though we didn’t form an agreement with them, we did set aside the $877 million and we are looking to negotiate with the Victorian Government how that money can best be spent, even though they didn’t form an agreement with us, even though –

JON FAINE:

Because you were in caretaker mode, you called an early election, end of story.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well no, it’s not because of caretaker mode, it’s because they didn’t actually have their act together. NSW did, the ACT did

JON FAINE:

Mr Pallas says he’ll release correspondence if necessary to prove his side of the argument.

KELLY O’DWYER:

He most certainly can do that. And the Northern Territory, all of whom actually could conclude an agreement within that time period. The Victorian Government wasn’t able to do that. They have played games with infrastructure projects. They basically burnt $1.5 billion that was going to go to the East West Link. We haven’t punished the Victorian people for that because we set that money aside for East West Link when we actually get a sensible government in place and we also used that money and made it available for things like the Monash Freeway, the M80 Western Ring Road, another rail freight connection.

JON FAINE:

I look forward to all the correspondence being released. If both sides release the correspondence the taxpayers can decide who they think is right, who they think is wrong, and who they think is telling us what we need to know. Kelly O’Dwyer, the news is upon us, thank you for your time. Minister for Revenue and Financial Services in the Turnbull Coalition Government from Canberra Kelly O’Dwyer.