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Tuesday, 03 April 2018
Transcript

Interview with Rebecca Levingston and Craig Zonca, ABC Radio Brisbane

Subjects: Funding for Bruce Highway works, Welcome reception in Brisbane for Royal visitors.     

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

If you've ever been stuck in traffic on the Bruce Highway, you might be interested in what the Prime Minister has to say today. Malcolm Turnbull will arrive in Brisbane with $150 million in his pocket that he plans to spend on the Bruce.

Peter Dutton is the Member for Dickson and lobbied the PM to secure this road funding for his electorate. Peter Dutton, good morning.

PETER DUTTON:        

Good morning guys, how are you?

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

Well thank you. What's the plan?

PETER DUTTON:        

The plan is for an on-ramp and an off-ramp on the southbound side. This is at Murrumba Downs and Griffin area.

At the moment people that want to travel from Murrumba Downs and Griffin, which has obviously been massively growing over the last few years, if they want to go north, they need to rat run up through to Anzac Avenue, so that creates a lot of additional traffic movements within the local road system there, so this will allow people to get straight onto the highway.

And similarly, if they're coming from the Sunshine Coast or from Caboolture or Redcliffe, wherever it might be, and they want to get off the Bruce Highway at Griffin, then they'll be able to do that under this plan as well.

CRAIG ZONCA:           

One hundred and fifty million dollars doesn't sound like it buys a lot of road.

PETER DUTTON:        

It doesn't seem to go far anymore, but that's the projection in relation to the Commonwealth's contribution. So we're proposing that Commonwealth pay 80 per cent, the state pay 20 per cent. So those negotiations will continue with the State Government. But it is important for the local area, because just given that the number of new dwellings, businesses that are being created there, over the course of the last 10 years. There's been a lot of hope and promise around this project for a long time, but we've got the funding and as soon as we can get it constructed, I think it'll make a big difference locally.

CRAIG ZONCA:           

You said there, Peter Dutton, that the feds are happy to chip in 80 per cent of the cost of this particular road infrastructure, yet there have been quite the barney between Brisbane and the Gold Coast on the M1 where the Federal Government are only happy to go up to 50 per cent. Why the higher offer this time around?

PETER DUTTON:        

It depends on the project. So the Gateway North project, for example, in Luke Howarth's electorate, there was a different arrangement there as well. There's a project by project negotiation that takes place, but the Coalition's got a multi-billion dollar commitment to spend on the Bruce Highway and it depends on whether or not you're talking about on-ramps or overpasses, exchanges. All of that depends on the particular road and circumstances to what the funding mix will be, but I know Bert van Manen's been doing a lot of work with the Prime Minister's office and with the Minister for Transport's office around the M1, because anyone who's travelling from the southside into Brisbane experiences the same as what people are doing on the Bruce Highway or the Gateway Motorway coming into the city.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

Why does it take so long? Because, Peter Dutton, our listeners and your constituents, the commuters who use that piece of road regularly, will have known that there's been promises about this ramp that go back to Tony Abbott in 2010, then the Coalition lost that election. You got government again in 2013. It's now 2018. Why does it take so long?

PETER DUTTON:        

Well we weren't able to get agreement out of the State Government for a number of years. It's obviously State Government land that is the corridor on which the on-ramp and the off-ramp will be built. So we've put what we think is a better deal on the table now and we don't see that there's any reasons as to why the Palaszczuk Government would want to stand in the way, but again, the Palaszczuk Government can answer for itself.

So it's been frustrating and there have been delays and we've fought with the State Governments – both LNP and with the Labor Government at a state level, that's the reality – but I think now this project can get off the ground and we really want the support of the State Government to make that happen.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

Peter Dutton is the Member for Dickson. He'll be hoping that the Prime Minister flies in today and commits that $150 million to fixing up the on and off-ramp in on Dohles Rocks Road in Murrumba Downs.

Peter Dutton, you're also the Minister for Home Affairs and tomorrow, you will be with the Royals at the Botanic Gardens. What's your role?

PETER DUTTON:        

My role will be to represent the Prime Minister and the Australian Government.

Obviously the Premier will be there as well and there'll be other officials, including of course the Governor. So there'll be an official welcome reception and then I understand His Royal Highness will then meet with people in Botanical Gardens and obviously then go onto the opening of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

What protocol briefing have you been given?

PETER DUTTON:        

I've got a brief there actually Bec, which I need to read through today. I haven't gone into it in too much detail, I'm not sure if I have to stand to attention at the right time or nod a particular way, but I'm sure there'll be some instructions there. But I think it's just a respectful exchange. It's acknowledgement of his position being here, and importantly, I think there'll be a lot of discussion around Commonwealth Games, because I think everyone's just starting to get really excited about what'll be a great project.

CRAIG ZONCA:           

Prince Charles has also been quite outspoken about climate change and the link to global conflict and refugees. Are you likely to canvas those topics in relation to Australia?

PETER DUTTON:        

Well I'd be happy to talk about those topics. Australia, next to Canada, has the biggest per capita intake of refugees in the world. So we've got a lot to be proud of.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, of the UNHCR, points out that Australia, along with Canada, provides the best settlement services to people moving out of torture and trauma situations, or out of war-torn countries into a country like ours. So that's systems around education or housing, integration, otherwise for the principles and for their children, so the whole family unit starts to work in the community, to go to school, to be educated etc. So…

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

…Australia also has a reputation internationally for some of the harshest treatment of people who are displaced by either conflict or other circumstances.

PETER DUTTON:        

Well I don't think that's the case Bec. If you look at what's happening in other countries, in Africa, in parts of the Middle East, there are plenty of countries that have a human rights record of which they couldn't possibly be proud, but we had a problem where we had 1200 people that we know of, at least, who were drowned at sea.

We've not had a drowning at sea over the course of the last couple of years. We've got 233 people now off Manus and Nauru that we've been able to negotiate to travel to the United States. We've been able to, as I say, bring in not only the 18,750 people a year through the refugee and humanitarian program, but also the 12,000 additional people coming out of the Syria and Iraq conflicts.

Now there are lots of countries who promise to do these things. They make gestures at the time that they'll fill X number of places. But few countries do and Australia lives up to our word. We provide, I think, a very generous approach to our refugee and humanitarian intake and I think we should be very proud of that.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

Well if you do end up canvassing those conversations with Prince Charles, we'd love for you to come back on the program and tell us about it Peter Dutton.

Do you think Australia should become a republic?

PETER DUTTON:        

No I don't. I'm happy with the system we've got at the moment, and again, there's diversity of views on that. I respect peoples' views and belief, you know, we should become a republic. I've got lots of friends and family that would be in that category.

I think people need to convince us why there would be a better, more stable system of government if we were to head toward a republic. A popularly elected movie star or cricket player or somebody as president might be popular, as it might be popular on a reality TV show, but I'm yet to be convinced as to how that makes us a more stable, democratic country.

I think we're one of the strongest democracies in the world and I'd want to be convinced of the need to give that up.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

I'm not sure that a cricket star or a celebrity is the sort of person who republicans are suggesting might…

PETER DUTTON:        

…what about a billionaire that could run a great campaign and get support?

I don't want it to be the office of somebody with money either. So there's lots of aspects to it you can discuss and lots of different models that people propose, but you asked me my position and that's mine.

CRAIG ZONCA:           

What are you saying there about Donald Trump, Peter Dutton?

PETER DUTTON:        

Well I think if you look at the United States, I mean, people now without means, without millions of dollars behind them or of their own personal wealth, don't go into politics. And I think that's terrible for a democracy. And I think that's the case with the Clinton's – who are worth millions of dollars – the Bush's and obviously now with President Trump. It takes a lot of money.

All the US candidates at the last presidential election had plenty of money behind them and that is not an aspect of the Australian model and I think we should protect it for a long time to come.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

Well Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull certainly hasn't been shy at tipping in money into his campaign efforts.

PETER DUTTON:        

Well that's his democratic right. The thing for us is that we don't have the millions of dollars from the CFMEU or the other unions, so many businesses now take a decision that they'll not contribute to political parties or they'll contribute in equal amounts to political parties. And the reality is that, unless you're publicly funding political campaigns, money has to be raised and it's not the domain of wealthy people in Australia, as I say, it is in other parts of the world.

And I think there's again, there's a lot we whinge about and complain about in our political environment in Australia, but we've got a lot to be very grateful for as well.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

Final question for you on the Royals; who you'll be taking a stroll with tomorrow in Brisbane's Botanic Gardens. Have you got a gift for Prince Charles and Camilla?

PETER DUTTON:        

I don't have a gift, but you've made me think now what…

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

…yes.

 PETER DUTTON:        

….what I'll have to do and what the protocol is.

REBECCA LEVINGSTON:        

Quickly.

PETER DUTTON:        

I'll read up Bec. I'll have to get a – I don't know – a Commonwealth Games cap. Something as adventurous as that.

 REBECCA LEVINGSTON:

We could send you an ABC Radio Brisbane sticker.

PETER DUTTON:        

Alright. I'm sure they'd be able to put it on the roller when they get back home.

CRAIG ZONCA:           

Well if you can do that and get a photo of that and text it through to us Minister? That would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time today.

PETER DUTTON:        

Thanks guys. See you.