Transcript - 3AW Drive Interview With Tom Elliott

Release Date: 
2 December 2014

Topics: East West Link E&OE…

TOM ELLIOTT: Mr Tudge, good afternoon.

ALAN TUDGE: G'day Tom, great to be on your programme.

TOM ELLIOTT: OK so could you not, maybe not you personally, could you - the Federal Government – without the involvement of the State Government come down and build something like the East West Link?

ALAN TUDGE: The short answer is we can't. We can fund the East West Link and we've done that we've put $3 billion on the table for the State Government to build it. But at the end of the day the State Government has to take responsibility. It's their land, they would have to build it.

TOM ELLIOTT: OK well Daniel Andrews has been pretty clear, although I think he's got some wriggle room, but he keeps saying he's going to tear up the contracts and not build it. Are you having talks with him at the moment?

ALAN TUDGE: I haven't personally had direct discussions with him. I know the Prime Minister has. But what I would say  Tom is that on Saturday night, Daniel Andrews said that he would govern for all Victorians and this is a project for all Victorians. It will lead to 7,000 jobs. It would build the economy in Victoria. It would link the Eastern Freeway right across to the west so that tradies can get across town, so that people who are commuting into town on the Eastern aren't stop at that Hoddle Street bottleneck so it can make Hoddle Street flow better and Alexandra Parade flow better.

This is a project that we do need Tom.

TOM ELLIOTT: OK well what if Daniel Andrews came to you as I suspect he will and says look I would like to build a different road, I'd like to build the Ring Road or something like that. Would you contemplate taking some or all of the East West Tunnel money that the Federal Government has promised to provide and put it into a different road project?

ALAN TUDGE: Well it wasn't promised to provide, we've actually already provided that money on the basis of contracts signed so that $3 billion is there to build the East West Link. It will always be there to build the East West Link. That's what the purpose of the money was there for.

Now a contract has been signed. Daniel Andrews made the point that 'sovereign risk is sovereign risk, a contract is a contract' he said. We want him to honour that contract and get on with the job of building that road.

TOM ELLIOTT: You're a member of the Liberal Party, the Liberal vote was not very strong on Saturday and it doesn't look good for the Federal Government insofar as it would need reasonable support from Victoria to win another federal election.

Would you negotiate with the State Government as I said, build a project that the State Government was happier with?

ALAN TUDGE: Tom we want to East West Link project built and Melburnians and Victorians want the East West Link project built. You looked at all the polling and it always showed about two-thirds of Melburnians and Victorians wanted it built. When you look at where the seats went across Victoria at the state election, all in the east which have been most affected by it, basically held their ground for the Coalition.

When you look at the federal government's election, we campaigned on an East West Link at the federal government election, the seats that the Coalition picked up were largely in that east west corridor of Corangamite, La Trobe, and Deakin. They'd be most directly affected by it.

This is a project which Melburnians I think desperately want.  Do a straw poll by text message on your show Tom and I reckon I know what the result would be.

TOM ELLIOTT: I've got to say it sounds like a clash of mandates though. You say you got a mandate for East West Link at last year's federal election. I would say that Daniel Andrews could very reasonably stick up his hand today and yesterday and Saturday night and Sunday and say I have a mandate from the people of Victoria. Whose mandate is going to win?

ALAN TUDGE: Well every single poll Tom said Melburnians and Victorians wanted this. Bill Shorten has come out in the past and supported it, the AWU in the past…

TOM ELLIOTT: Yeah but we had an election. I'm a fan of the East West Link, but we had a state election on Saturday and the result was pretty conclusive was it not?

ALAN TUDGE: Well at the end of the day we also had a federal election and we had a state election but the consistent polling was Victorians want this.

The other important point is that Daniel Andrews himself made the point that 'a contract is a contract' he said and they shouldn't be torn up. Chris Bowen the Shadow Federal Treasurer also made this exact same point that when contracts are signed you honoured them and that's what we want to occur in this instance.

There's $3 billion on the table. If that contract is broken, there'll be a further $1.1 billion lost in compensation. That's $4.1 billion which is about $1,800 per household that Daniel Andrews is just going to throw away and put on the bonfire should he tear up that contract.

Now I don't think Victorians want that money thrown away. I do think they want the East West Link built. As I said take a straw poll of your listeners, half of those people are probably on the road right now stuck in traffic,  I reckon I know what they want.

TOM ELLIOTT: Alan Tudge, Parliamentary Secretary to Tony Abbott the Prime Minister, thank you for your time.

ALAN TUDGE: Thanks Tom.