Radio 2HD interview - Hunter ripped off in Federal Budget 2019

April 03, 2019




 SUBJECTS:  Federal Budget, Hunter ripped off, Glendale Interchange, Singleton bypass, M1 extension, NDIS, federal election, Labor’s tax, Liberals’ cuts to schools and hospitals, Budget Forums.


PETER DAVIS, CO-HOST: Firstly, I’d like to ask you your impressions of the Federal Budget and do you really think that the Hunter got its fair share out of this Budget?

PAT CONROY, MEMBER FOR SHORTLAND: The Hunter was ripped off massively in this Budget, and you’d expect me to say that, but you just have to look at our key infrastructure priorities. For example, the Glendale Transport Interchange, which is the number one project for all 11 Hunter councils, for the sixth year in a row this Federal Government refuses to fund it. If you look at the Singleton bypass, they’ve refused to fund that as well. On infrastructure, we’re being ripped off. If you look at the $1.6 billion of cuts to the NDIS spending, as a pilot region for the NDIS, that budget cut is already having an impact on families in my community who are getting less money from the NDIS than they deserve.

KIM BAUER, CO-HOST: Pat, you mentioned the infrastructure investment there, so what about the $1.6 billion for the Raymond Terrace M1 motorway extension. Would you have put the Glendale Interchange ahead of that?

CONROY: I welcome the M1 extension; that is an important piece of work that has been identified by Infrastructure Australia and it is long overdue, so that is good news and I should be open about that. But as I have said, all 11 Hunter councils have said that the Glendale Transport Interchange is the number one project. For every dollar of public investment, $94 of private investment will be opened up; we’ll see the potential of up to 10,000 jobs being created. It really is a key project to opening up the northern part of Lake Macquarie and the western part of Newcastle. So, it’s not about ranking projects, per se, and saying you should fund one over the other. If this Government was fair dinkum about supporting the Hunter, they’d fund Glendale and the Singleton bypass, as well as the M1 extension.

DAVIS: So, as far as matching is concerned, are there elements of this Budget you think Labor will match?

CONROY: In a lot of the Budget they have caught up to us. They have copied Labor’s tax cuts for those between $40,000 and $120,000 but they’ve ignored the 2 million workers who earn less than $40,000, who don’t get a single dollar of tax cuts under this year’s Budget, which is a disgrace. So, they haven’t caught up completely to our tax cuts. But we have signalled that we will pass them as quickly as possible. In fact, we have offered to pass them this year before we go home this week, but the Government for some reason wants to take it to an election. That’s one of the key areas. On health cuts, they’ve still got $2 billion worth of cuts to hospital funding, and on schools there is still $14 billion of cuts to public schools which we have obviously committed to reversing.

BAUER: So you just mentioned the election. We believe it will be announced by the weekend or on the weekend; May 11, 18 or 25. Do you actually have any insight? Does Labor know or do you find out the same time we do?

CONROY: We find out the same time as you. I’ll be listening to the radio while I do some housework on Sunday afternoon in case the Prime Minister is driving to the Governor General’s residence. My view is that it is probably going to be May 11 or May 18. If he tries to go to May 25 there’s a danger that the Electoral Commission won’t have the Senate count finished by the first of July, which they have to do for constitutional reasons; we must have a new Senate by July 1. So my pick is May 11 or 18, but I know as much as you.

BAUER: I did hear Mr Shorten say last night that everyone seems to be blinded by the dollars and forgetting what a rabble the Liberal Party was a few months ago. Do you think they can buy back trust with what was issued last night?

CONROY: I don’t think so, to be honest. I think they are not giving the Australian people any credit at all. When I talk to people, they just think Canberra’s an embarrassment at the moment. We’ve had three Prime Ministers in a little over three years, we’ve had 13 energy policies in two-and-a-half years, and the Australian people are just sick of it. They want some stability, they want some unity, and they want an end to the chaos and infighting. Unfortunately, the current Government can’t deliver that. They are busy fighting each other, even as we speak.

BAUER: People will probably wonder why we don’t have anyone from the Liberal side things on. Basically, they were pretty much gagged. It was the Finance Minister, the Treasurer or the PM that could speak today, so we will catch up with Arthur Sinodinos this time tomorrow. But Pat, you will be breaking the Budget down for people. Now, I believe you’ve got things on at Valentine, Charlestown and Budgewoi. Do you want to give them a bit of a plug?

CONROY: Absolutely. So, I run each year Budget forums, which are apolitical event s, where I just provide information to people about what’s in the Budget and answer their questions. It’s always really good, evenings or days, to exchange information. The first one is next Tuesday, April 9, at Valentine Bowling Club in the evening, then on Wednesday morning at Charlestown Bowls Club, and then on Thursday I’m at Halekulani Bowls Club at 9.30am. You can get more information from my office or you can ring my office to reserve a spot. I’d encourage everyone to come. I’d emphasise that I keep the spin to a minimum – it’s hard for a politician to do that. But I present the facts, the numbers and then talk to people and find out what they are interested in. So people can go to my website or phone my office on 4947 9546 to reserve a spot. And I’d encourage everyone to head along.

DAVIS: Thank you Pat for coming on. And we wish you all the very best in the upcoming election.

Listen to my interview here