Andrew robb warns east west link long term toll qanda

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Q&A: East West Link anger; Muslim leadership; battling depression. Gina Rushton

Q&A: Link road’s lingering bill

Trade Minister Andrew Robb opened up on Q&A about his battle with depression. Source: TheAustralian
All Australians would pay for the Victorian Government’s decision to cancel the East West Link, trade and investment minister Andrew Robb told ABC’s Q&A program.

Mr Robb, who has spent the week talking to sovereign wealth funds across the Middle East, said that although Mr Andrews fulfilled his promise to scrap the link he also vowed it would not harm Victoria’s reputation as an investment option.

“(Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews) has done amazing damage to our reputation as a country with no sovereign risk,” Mr Robb told the live studio audience.

“So all Australians are going to pay … not just the 7000 people who haven’t got a job as a result.”

The program’s panel featuring ‘human headline’ Derryn Hinch, irreverent comedian Dave Hughes and outspoken former Speaker of the House Anna Burke was destined to kick off with a divisive question.

“Australian Muslims need to take a litmus test: do they reject jihad and do they reject the caliphate?”

“It is extremism you need to knock out not one religion or another,” Ms Burke responded.

Mr Robb said there were currently problems with “Muslim leadership” in Australia today as there were during the race-fuelled 2005 Cronulla Riots when he had ministerial responsibility for multicultural.

“The Imams in particular I think should be doing a lot more to look after their community in Australia,” Mr Robb said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “more jail, less bail” approach had been forgotten in the approach to the latest arrests carried out over alleged terror plots, Mr Hinch said.

“They’re either dangerous people who allegedly have committed offences and should be detained or they are not and I find this strange that three of them have walked free,” he said.

“Man Haron Monis from Martin Place should never have been out on bail, should not have been able to walk into the Lindt cafe.”

Mr Hinch — who admitted his New Year’s Resolution was “not going back to jail this year — was also displeased with Mr Abbott’s decision to skol a beer at a university party over the weekend.

“If that makes you an Aussie bloke I don’t want to be one,” he said.

“I think the toughest man in the pub who’s surrounded by a group of drinkers and says “No, I’ll be right”,” Mr Hughes, who hasn’t had a drop of alcohol for two decades, agreed.

Questioner Samuel Adeloju asked Mr Robb how he carries out his job as a successful minister and parliamentarian while battling depression.

“In my case it was medication that really did the trick and for the last four years I’ve had better days than any days for the 43 years before,” Mr Robb, who also swims and listens to jazz to improve his mood, said.

CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Jane Burns spearheaded beyondblue but said “a campaign is not going to solve the challenge” facing Australia’s mentally ill.

“We went out to communities, we talked to communities, we heard stories from farmers, from people who were really vulnerable and they talked about their own lived experience and that’s critical to the work that we need to do to build on the fabulous foundation,” Ms Burns said.

Strong leadership in both levels of government would help in enacting the Mental Health Commission’s 700-page findings into mental health programs and services, she said.

“It has a blueprint for action which we can act on now,” she said noting the key recommendation of the report rejected by the Federal Government was to shift $1 billion of future hospital funding into community-based care.

The mental health sector was “united” and “ready to act now” but Mr Robb said a coordinated response would take time.

“We are obsessed with hospital beds in this country,” Ms Burke said.

“Why are we waiting for everybody to end up at the bottom of the cliff in the ambulance going to the hospital?”

There is still a stigma surrounding mental illness, the panel agreed.

“I look back I think most of the jobs I got I would never have got if I had psychiatrists on my CV,” Mr Robb said.

The plight of a 10-year-old autistic boy and his battle to avoid deportation also stirred heated debate on the panel.