SKY NEWS ON THE HOUR WITH JAYNIE SEAL
02 APRIL 2023
TOPICS: Aston byelection, Commonwealth and Olympic Games Infrastructure, Regional Roads
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Jaynie Seal Joining me live is Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Bridget McKenzie. Thank you so much for your time. Yes, a big night. People are describing it as a disaster for the Libs. We’d like to get your take on it.
Senator Bridget McKenzie It is great to be with you. It was obviously a tough day yesterday for our Liberal colleagues. They had a fabulous candidate in Roshena, and in the Aston community there were key projects like Dorset Road, Wellington Road, Napoleon Road have been cut by federal Labor. And the cost of living crisis that’s been made worse by Labor was also a deeply held concern within that electorate. But, you know, as Dutts said this morning, there are lessons to be learned for the Victorian division of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party more broadly and I’m absolutely confident that my Liberal colleagues will take those lessons on board as we look to be a really competent and positive option for Australians in the upcoming election.
Jaynie Seal And Anthony Albanese made some comments, he’s not taking this win for granted. How much of a reflection do you think this is? This win is on the Albanese Government?
Senator Bridget McKenzie Well, I think there were a lot of local issues at play in this byelection. Having spent some time on the ground meeting local voters with Roshena who really engaged well throughout the campaign, a highly intelligent and competent candidate, I think for that community, they were very much interested in local issues.
It’s one of the lessons for all political parties out of the federal election and recent state elections. Those political parties that are deeply engaged in their local community understand their local community and are prepared to fight for that, whether it be in the state Parliament or indeed, Canberra, are the candidates and the parties that get backed.
I just simply reflect on the National Party’s really great results in the recent New South Wales election, the Victorian state election and indeed last year’s federal election where we stuck to our knitting, our communities were really clear on the proposition we were offering them and then obviously backed that in against the trend either across the state or across the country.
So I’m confident that those tough lessons will be learned and that my federal colleagues will be working very hard over the coming year and a half before the next federal election. And that’s part of my responsibility as Infrastructure and Transport Shadow Minister, to get into these communities on the ground, understand their aspirations and desires in that space, and make sure we have really credible and engaging policies to be able to deliver on should we be given the privilege of government.
Jaynie Seal And you did make mention of the Victorian state election, New South Wales state election, which of course was on last week. And there was a lot of talk on, you know, infrastructure, roads being one of their main issues. The regions saying they time and time again get forgotten. A lot of the focus was on Western Sydney. How do you think the Minns Government will work with regional Australia and New South Wales, I should say?
Senator Bridget McKenzie Yeah, well, I think if you look at the map, they haven’t got a lot of representation west of the divide in that minority Government. So we as a political party, the ones who are working for the 9 million Australians that don’t live in capital cities, will be watching very carefully the Minns Government’s response to transport infrastructure out in the regions.
We’ve seen with the flooding events over recent years and the road network right throughout the East Coast is under pressure. Here in my home state of Victoria, the State Labor Government isn’t putting in enough money to actually rectify that. Our great concern would be that a Labor government in Macquarie Street similarly will reject funding critical projects out in rural and regional New South Wales. We know that the transport and the freight task is significant. We know that our truckies, and by the way most of our produce arrives in capital cities via a truck, they need to be ensured that the road network is safe and efficient for them to use.
I’m very concerned that State Labor in New South Wales, if Anthony Albanese is anything to go by, will not have regard to rural and regional communities and not just in the transport portfolio. You know, you’ve seen rural health come under attack at a federal level and I’d be very, very concerned that similarly the Minns’ Government will be more focused on Sydney than those of us that live outside the capital cities.
So that’s one to watch and I’m sure my New South Wales colleagues will be holding them to account.
Jaynie Seal And Senator McKenzie, let’s talk about another issue. There’s a Senate inquiry set up for the Comm Games on in three years. What are some of your main concerns?
Senator Bridget McKenzie We’re getting incredibly concerned here in Victoria with the Commonwealth Games coming up in 2026. That’s only three years away. We like to pride ourselves on being Australia’s, if not the Globe’s standout premier destination for sporting events. For example, we’ve got the Australian Open, or this weekend we’ve got the Grand Prix, but that reputation is at risk given the Comm Games are less than three years away and we haven’t seen a plan for venues, we haven’t seen a funding program, we haven’t seen any tenders announced and we haven’t seen any construction begin on the accommodation for in excess of the tens of thousands of volunteers, athletes and spectators. We haven’t seen plans for the transport connections that will be required to get people to and from events safely and efficiently. Neither have we seen any plan for the international sporting facilities that are going to be developed. We’re really excited that the Comm Games pitch that we won on was based in rural and regional Victoria, so Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Shepparton and down in Gippsland. But the lack of planning will put all of that at risk.
So we set up a Senate inquiry to look at that and also look at the Olympic Games bid for 2032. It’s been under a shroud of secrecy, very opaque decision making. Instead of having an independent oversight body managing the funding and the construction and the event hosting details as was outlined in the preliminary bid to the IOC, we now have an advisory body, if you like, within the Premier’s Department of Queensland. And when you think of the billions of dollars that the Commonwealth taxpayer has put on the table to assist with hosting this event, we think there needs to be more transparency and accountability at Commonwealth level around the Olympic Games. The Greens who are also similarly concerned with the redevelopment of the Gabba, because it is potentially going to see the closure of a local primary school. So we’re very concerned to see the impacts more broadly on the Olympic Games development.
Jaynie Seal All right. Yes, a lot to unfold and we’ll get you on again soon and talk about the outcome from the Senate inquiry. But we do have to wrap it up there. Senator Bridget McKenzie, thank you so much.
Senator Bridget McKenzie Great to be with you.