Interview – ABC Gold Coast Breakfast with Bern Young

Topics: 2019-20 Budget for the Gold Coast


Bern Young: I have joining me here  Breakfast this morning the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology and the Federal Member for McPherson here on the Gold Coast Karen Andrews. Morning, Karen.

Karen Andrews:     Good morning, how are you?

Bern Young: I’m well. Did you have AC/DC in your head as the Budget was being delivered or are you…

Karen Andrews:  Well I’ve got to say I’m a bit of an AC/DC fan anyway. In fact it’s on my bucket list to learn how to play the bagpipes and that stems from AC/DC.

Bern Young: Well there you go.

Karen Andrews: It’s a sad confession isn’t it?

Bern Young: Well bucket lists might have something to do with Budget time too. Let’s look specifically at the Gold Coast. A lot of the things that were announced last night we already knew but remind us what are in this Budget for this city?

Karen Andrews: It’s great news for Gold Coasters. So I was really happy to see that the infrastructure- well the transport infrastructure spend that had been announced pre-Budget was obviously included. So what it locks in is the upgrade of the M1 through to Tugun which is fantastic. It locks in the $112 million to upgrade and extend the light rail from Broadbeach down to Burleigh Heads. It’s got the forward planning for heavy rail. Now Gold Coasters have waited a long time for heavy rail to be even on the agenda to get through to Coolangatta. So that forward planning money is there, which is terrific. There’s money to make sure our roads are safer. We’ll inject that into the local roads so that’s good news, But for small businesses – and really the Gold Coast is Australia’s small business capital – so we’ve got around about 70,000 small business on the Coast and they really do drive our local economy. So a couple of things in there for small businesses. We’ve extended the instant asset tax right off to $30,000. It had just been increased to 25. That will got to $30,000 but we’ve also increased the threshold, so we’ve actually moved it for businesses. Previously it was a $10 million cap, it’s now gone to $50 million. So that’s going to be so important. So what it does, so a 30,000 cap means that for example a courier can go out and buy a new vehicle and they can write that off in the one year so it is actually really good news and that will drive our economy. And of course for all our motorists, the money that we’ve got for transport infrastructure means that they’re going to be getting to where they need to be sooner and safer.

Bern Young:  This Budget comes – well we’ll find out on Sunday is the word when the election will be – but only weeks away. Is it simply a vote grabbing exercise this Budget with tax cuts and handouts?

Karen Andrews:     No, no it’s not at all …

Bern Young: Really? Karen Andrews, I mean you know you want to win government, surely. I mean you’d be crazy not to have a vote grabbing Budget wouldn’t you?

Karen Andrews: Look, I understand what you’re saying there and it’s easy to look at it and go
this is just all about winning an election but you’ve actually got to look at it in context and we’ve been pretty open about it as well too. We inherited some significant problems when we came into government. So we were in deficit in the Budget. It has taken six long, hard years by the government, and also by many Australians, to get us back where we’ve got surplus so that the revenue that we’re collecting is greater than spending. So that was stage one of the process. There’s six years to get us back into a surplus. Phase two of that is then making sure that we pay back the debt. So it is a two-part process, so I’m delighted that we are able to announce that we are back in the black and that we’ve dealt with phase one and that’s got us to the point where we can start to do things with tax cuts, with more support for small businesses. We’re putting money into making sure that we get more apprentices and that’s actually fixing a problem that state Labor in Queensland have largely created because we federally put some money on the table to increase the number of apprentices in training and the state Labor Government in Queensland walked away and refused to sign. So they gave all of that money up, didn’t want it, wanted to do it all themselves. We know that we’ve got a skills problem in Queensland so it’s been left to the federal Government to come and fix the problem. 

Bern Young: Can I refer to that surplus? Hashtag fake surplus has been trending on Twitter this morning. I’ll just take a listen to an exchange on 7:30 last night. This is Leigh Sales speaking to the


Leigh Sales: You just told the Parliament that the Budget is black in the black; it’s not, it’s still in the red.

Josh Frydenberg:  It’s actually a 7.1 billion surplus for 2019-2020 with $45 billion of surpluses over the next four years.

Leigh Sales: But Treasurer, we’re in 2018-2019. It’s a deficit this year of $4.2 billion.

Josh Frydenberg:  Leigh, it’s a credible trajectory over the next four years which has been the product of disciplined decision making over the last six years.

[End of excerpt]

Bern Young: Karen Andrews, can you understand the sentiment this morning that people are confused somewhat over a projected surplus versus being in surplus now?

Karen Andrews: Yeah, look I understand that but what we delivered last night was the 2019-2020 Budget and that is back in surplus. So what Josh was saying was correct…

Bern Young: If everything goes to plan, though. You know, if commodity prices are unchanged. There’s a lot of ifs, aren’t there?

Karen Andrews: Oh look, let’s be honest about this as well. When you’re actually putting together forward projections and planning, you have to take into account a range of factors. But I think that Gold Coasters should rest assure that we have been conservative with the numbers that we’re putting up. And yes, there are some likely impacts that may come to us. There is a slowing of many international economies. So there is slowing in China, that's been factored in to the projections. There's also slowing in the United States, that's been factored in to our projections as well too. So this is a conservative approach. It's a realistic one. Now, what we do have is the opportunity to get out there, take the advantages that we have from the Budget, start building our economy even more. That's why it was so important to make sure that small businesses were being supported. Because we really do know that they drive the economy, particularly on the Gold Coast. 

Bern Young: Karen Andrews stay with me for a moment because I have one other question for
you and it’s around - funnily enough - traffic and infrastructure for traffic. So let's get the here and now on what the roads are like at the moment. 

[Unrelated content - traffic report]

Bern Young: I've got the Member for McPherson, Karen Andrews, joining me as we dissect the
Budget last night. Thanks for staying with me just as we do get that traffic report because of course, urban congestion was a big part of last night's Budget. And I'm just wondering, can we just drill down into the fact that Melbourne is getting the big bucks when it comes to the fast rail first? The $2 billion goes for the Melbourne-Geelong route. We’re part of the $8 million corridor study. There was a big fanfare about this only a week or so ago when it was announced. Did you go into bat to see whether we could or should have gone ahead of the Geelong route given how busy this commute is? This intra-city commute in Queensland?

Karen Andrews: Look, it's a really good question. I have been absolutely consistent in what I have been fighting for, for the Gold Coast. So, I said that we needed to fix the M1, so in the- during the last election campaign, the Liberal National Government promised that we would provide funding federally that we needed to, to upgrade the M1 between Mudgeeraba and Varsity. We were actually the only party that made that commitment during the 2016 election. So that was delivered. Then we've actually provided the rest of the funding to take it through to the border. That commitment has been made, that's locked in. So I said the M1 was the priority. The second priority was to get the light rail heading further south. That's now been delivered with $112 million from the Liberal National Government federally to take that through to Burleigh, and I said stage three of our transport plan was going to be heavy rail so ... 

Bern Young: And it has. So how far away would that be? If Geelong-Melbourne get this money first – assuming you're elected, of course, in order to make your plans real – realistically, when would we be seeing something like that? When does the Gold Coast get an announcement that they get $2 billion for fast rail? 

Karen Andrews: Well that's going to be my next priority for the Gold Coast. I want two things to happen. I actually want the upgrade to the M1 to be happening faster than it is now, because we know we've got bottlenecks on the southern Gold Coast. We need to get that happening. I’ll all continue to push state Labor Government, because they've got operational responsibility for delivering that, to get that happening sooner rather than later. And I will be taking myself downstairs to talk to the Prime Minister and to the Deputy Prime Minister about what the next stages are going to be a heavy rail. I’m absolutely committed to getting that happening on the southern Gold Coast. So we've got the money to do the forward planning for that, but I want that to be up on their agenda now to make sure that as soon as we possibly can, we'll get that happening. 

Bern Young: Karen Andrews is the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, more importantly in this area, she is our Federal Member for McPherson. Appreciate your time this morning, Karen. Thank you. 

Karen Andrews:  It's a pleasure. Lovely to speak with you.

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