Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledges infrastructure support for Victoria

Herald Sun: Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledges infrastructure support for Victoria. Ellen Whinnett National Political Editor. 28 February 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the East West Link is a vital element of Victoria’s future and an announcement on infrastructure spending in Victoria would come soon.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald Sun as he approaches six months as PM, Mr Abbott said there would be federal announcements shortly on the “vital infrastructure investments necessary to improve the overall economic health of Victoria”.

Reaffirming his support for the Link he gave his clearest sign yet that federal funding might be forthcoming soon for phase two, which would run from CityLink to the Western Ring Rd.

“I certainly would like to support phase two,” Mr Abbott said.

“I appreciate that it’s a very, very big project, but I think it could be a vital element in the confidence and optimism of the state.”

Asked if there would be an announcement before November’s state election, Mr Abbott said: “I think it’s highly likely the Government will have more announcements to make about Victorian infrastructure sooner rather than later.”

The Government has already pledged $1.5 billion for stage one of the Link. The federal share of phase two could be about $2 billion.

“We think it’s a very important project,” Mr Abbott said.

“Having committed to phase one we think phase two should go ahead.”

In a wide-ranging interview in Darwin, where he had spent the day visiting military personnel involved in the anti-people smuggling Operation Sovereign Borders, Mr Abbott reflected on his first few months as PM.

“They’ve been incredibly challenging, but tremendously exhilarating as well, and what I want to see, as time goes by, is further delivery of the Government’s election commitments.”

He also said:

THE Government was working with defence manufacturers in Victoria to ensure a steady pipeline of work.

TARIFFS on imported cars designed to protect sales of locally made vehicles were less relevant as local manufacturing wound down, so people should “watch this space” for announcements about their future.

HE had been attempting to contact Cardinal George Pell to congratulate him on his promotion to the Vatican but the pair kept missing each other.

EDWARD Snowden, the American security contractor responsible for the leak of highly sensitive documents relating to US surveillance programs, was a “traitor, a shocking traitor, one of the worst the West has ever known”.

HE was determined to rebuild Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, damaged by the Snowden leaks that showed Australian efforts to spy on Indonesia.

“Plainly the Indonesians have been unhappy about a number of issues, most notably about the spying claims, but as far as I am concerned, I have nothing but goodwill towards Indonesia, respect towards President Yudhoyono, and enthusiasm for restoring the close as possible relations as soon as possible,” Mr Abbott said.

He said Australia would do this by “constantly affirming our respect for Indonesia and our desire for the best possible relations and our readiness to help Indonesia in any way we can”.

Speaking about the royal commission into union corruption, the Prime Minister described the CFMEU in Victoria as a handbrake on jobs and Victorian prosperity.

“I’m not opposed to unionism. I support unionism. I’m just opposed to unlawful unionism, to corruption, to thuggery, to rip-off, and all of that will be the subject of the royal commission,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the Government was working towards May, when it would deliver a “repaired Budget”.

Asked if it would be a tough Budget, he said: “It will be the Budget Australia needs.”

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