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Source: Australian Ministers for Regional Development

Jami Klisaris: …basketball and other indoor sports. Many people are surprised to know that this facility that we’re standing in is all that our community has. The prime netball association and local basketball clubs and leagues deserve the chance to expand and evolve alongside our football and cricket competitions who have traditionally done well when it comes to support from government at all levels.

I’m also very pleased that Richard Amon, the CEO for Disability Sport and Recreation, is here for this announcement. Our new indoor stadium will be fully accessible and we will ensure that this is reflected in the programming of sports. This is an investment to create sporting opportunities for everyone for generations to come. And again, I would like to thank the Federal Government for supporting this facility and for supporting women and girls in sport.

On behalf of the city of Stonnington and my fellow councillors, I’d like to thank you all for being here in the middle of Cup Weekend and now I would like to pass over to Dr Allen.

Katie Allen: Thank you Jamie for those wonderful words and thank you to the Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack for joining us here today for this very important announcement to Stonnington Council, with Steve Stefanopoulos the mayor and to Jacqui Weatherill CEO, but most importantly to these wonderful girls here who are in schools locally in Higgins and are out there playing sport.

I’m a paediatrician and a mother of four including two girls and I’ve lived in Higgins for 40 years and I know, as do friends of mine, family members, how difficult it is to get good access to local amenities for sporting facilities. And as a paediatrician and mother, I just know how important it is to get our girls out there and active and we know that the AFLW has really unleashed this excitement in the community and amongst our girls to get out there and get active and I myself have driven you know hours dropping my kids off at local sporting facilities but not for netball because we just haven’t had the facilities.

So this is really a game changer in the true sense of the word with regards to what we’re going to provide as a facility for Higgins, for our community and it’s been a long time coming. I know Marg [inaudible] has been fighting for this for 36 years and sometimes, you know, you can’t believe it when you finally get it over the line. But when the acting Prime Minister rang me and said we’re going to deliver this; this is something that our Federal Government cares about deeply; we care about women in sport; we care about local facilities; we know that places like Higgins don’t have large amounts of open spaces; we’re going to deliver this, I was absolutely delighted and thrilled.

And I would say that Stonnington has been amazing with regards to engaging every single sporting group with all of the residents locally. Sometimes it can be hard to bring people on a journey; they’ve taken the time, they’ve been diligent about it, they’ve been persistent about it. A bit like a marathon run in some ways in getting over the line. But that’s what sports teaches our kids. It teaches them persistence; it teaches them resilience; it teaches them teamwork and most importantly, it helps them to be fit, healthy and active and as a doctor I can’t think of a better thing to support.

So I’m absolutely delighted to be here as a member of the Morrison Government and I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve had the Acting Prime Minister here because we think this is such an important thing and we are delighted to have Michael McCormack here to make a formal announcement. So thank you so much, Michael.

[Applause]

Michael McCormack: It’s a pleasure Katie. And these sorts of announcements don’t happen – don’t happen by chance; they don’t happen by coincidence; they happen because you’ve got good local members in there fighting hard to build community capacity, members such as Katie Allen who was elected by the people of Higgins to go to Canberra and fight for facilities such as this, following on from the great work that Kelly O’Dwyer did for the seat of Higgins.

Of course, we all know that particularly at this time, particularly in this period, that Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia, make no mistake. But it’s not just about those wonderful equine thoroughbreds that go around Flemington; it’s not just about those great AFL and AFLW players; it’s

also about the young girls, the young people who want the very best course; who want the very best facilities; who want to be able to come indoors and play their sport no matter what level they’re at. And whether they are people who are active in their sports, whether they are making sure that they learn a sport to be able to have friends for life, this is what this netball facility- this is what about this sporting complex is going to provide.

It’s going to provide for community capacity building and the young girls behind me are examples of people who want the very best in facilities. Their mums, their dads, their guardians; they also – they pay their rates. Steve Stefanopoulos knows that, Jacqui Weatherill knows that. They pay their taxes, Katie indeed, and they want the best facilities and they are going to thanks to Stonnington Council; thanks to the investment that this council is making in its future. Make no mistake, when you build sporting facilities such as this, you build community capacity, you make the community have a better feeling about itself and this is going to be the envy of Melbourne, rest assured.

There’s not much open space in this area but what open space there is, is going to be exploited and explored to its fullest advantage. I love the artist’s impression of what we’re going to build here: a $40 million plus facility that is going to serve the needs of this community for many, many years to come. Service the needs of those athletes, be they disabled, be they some of the girls behind me and indeed the entire area of Prahran and elsewhere who are going to use this facility, who are going to make sure that they have a healthier lifestyle. We need kids to get out from behind their computers and to get out into courts such as this and the four that we’re going to build. And also the wonderful fields that are going to be part of this complex to make sure that they can make new friends, to  make sure that they can have a healthier lifestyle.

And I say, again, this doesn’t happen by chance, this happens because you’ve got a Government balancing the books. This comes because you’ve got a government committed to building more infrastructure, be it sporting infrastructure, be it roads, be it rail, whatever the case might be we’ve got a hundred billion dollars of infrastructure that we’re building at the moment right across this nation and whether it’s complexes such as this, we’re investing $4 million on the back of the local government investment. This is also what you get when you have good governments partnering up, governments such as Steve’s Stonnington Council. Jackie, I know, as her and a team a committed and dedicated to building more community capacity here in this wonderful area of Melbourne. So well done to you. Well done to Marg [inaudible] for being such a fighter, such a campaigner, for advocating so hard and also well done to Katie Allen. I know this has been a priority of hers. I know she’s mentioned it many, many times to me about what the future holds for Stonnington, about building that community capacity, about building better sporting infrastructure.

Well today, the fact is we’re getting on and we’re going to do it. Construction will start next year. I know that all things being equal, by 2022 we’re going to have a sporting complex here that is going to be the envy of not just Melbourne, but indeed right across Australia and this will attract visitors. This will attract sporting championships, this will attract other netballers. And who knows, the next netball star, the next the next young lady to represent this nation may well come about just as a result of this investment that’s been made by Stonnington, this investment that’s been made by the Morrison Government through the hard work and advocacy of Katie Allen. So I say well done to each

and every person involved in this project. It’s going to be fantastic and I’m really looking forward to seeing it progress in the future. Steve would you want to make a few comments?

Steve Stefanopoulos: Thank you for coming. [Applause]

It is an absolute delight for us to have the Acting Prime Minister here as well as Katie Allen. This is an amazing project that the City of Stonnington has been trying to advocate for a number of years here. As the Acting Prime Minister said, it’s a $40 million project that we are investing in a life-long facility here for women and girls to actually play netball and basketball. We have inappropriate facilities here in Prahran that we are going to invest in new- brand facilities out at Malvern East in the city of Stonnington and we are delighted the Federal Government has come on board with this project. And I agree with the Acting Prime Minister that it’s about girls and young women getting out of home and being active and enjoying their community out there. Why else wouldn’t you want to be outside enjoying the sunshine and being here in the city of Stonnington? It’s a great place to live and a great place to play sport. And on that note can I invite Marg Conlan, who has been championing this project for about 30 years to let us know about her feelings on this project.

Marg Conlan: Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, my gorgeous girls behind me, to all the parents, after 36 years I think I might be trying to get a tiny bit excited. Can I go back to an article I saw in a Prahran Leader who were doing a display for the [indistinct] which is on at Stonnington Library at the moment. And on one of our story boards was an article from the Prahran Leader dated 30 October 1988.

Headlines were Netball failed to win to Toorak site. It was- they locked in at this final council meeting and the casting vote by the Mayor who is still in council, John Chandler, voted against the proposal for that site back in 1998. So it’ll be taking us 20 years to actually get John to finally decide this is what we need. So with his support I’m very grateful that this project is now about to happen. To all the girls and to all the boys, to all the parents, to all the grandparents, and I hope there’s not great-great- grandparents when I finish my term here. Thank you ever so much to the council for your support, it’s been absolutely amazing. I think we’re on third base and we’re heading for fourth base, so let’s build this project. Thank you.

[Applause]

Michael McCormack: Anything else?

Steve Stefanopoulos: That’s it. Thanks for coming, much appreciated. Enjoy.

Unidentified speaker: Well done girls.

Steve Stefanopoulos: Thanks girls.

Journalist: So this is just a couple of questions on behalf of my colleagues in Canberra.

Michael McCormack: Sure.

Journalist: Is the Federal Court’s ruling on the backpacker tax, that it’s in some cases invalid, an embarrassment for the Government?

Michael McCormack: Well let’s see what the Taxation Commissioner has to say about this. Obviously a ruling has been made. We’ll wait to see what the Taxation Commissioner has to say and we’ll go from there.

Journalist: Farmers and tourism operators felt blindsided by the policy and your Government’s scaled it back because of the outrage. Doesn’t this ruling show that the policy was rushed and that you didn’t consult well enough?

Michael McCormack: Everything that this Government does, we do in a very considered, deliberate and careful way. Yes, a ruling has been made. We will see what the taxation commissioner has to say about it. And as I say again, we’ll go from there.

Journalist: Where are you going to get the potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to pay backpackers tax [indistinct]?

Michael McCormack: Well again I say let’s see what happens from here; let’s see what the Taxation Commissioner has to say about it. I know that a ruling has been made. But I say again, we will always support backpackers. We will always support those people who fill really important voids in our horticultural, in our agricultural, indeed, in our tourism industry. Farmers need backpackers.

The Government is fully aware of that. We’ll always support measures and endeavours to make sure that fruit gets picked to make sure that tourism opportunities are available because we’ve got people who can go into regional areas and work, and work very hard as they always have and always will do. We’ll make sure that we address what the ruling has been in a very careful way as we always do.

Journalist: So do you think the Tax Commissioner should appeal the ruling?

Michael McCormack: No, well I’m not going to say what the Tax Commissioner should or shouldn’t do. That’s a matter for the Tax Commissioner.

Journalist: And just to NBN now. Is there [indistinct] decision to establish a new regional business unit an admission that the NBN has failed regional communities?

Michael McCormack: What is, it’s a matter that regional Australia has benefited from the rollout of NBN under the Liberals and The Nationals. NBN was a mess when we took over Government in 2013, an absolute botched attempt at getting connectivity, particularly in regional areas, but not just in regional areas, in Metropolitan too. What we’ve done is we’ve fixed up Labor’s mess as we always do, not just with telecommunications, but in so many other areas of endeavour. I mean Labor didn’t have a rural and regional policy, they certainly didn’t have an agricultural policy.

What we’ve put in place is we’ve made sure that the telecommunications are right. And when you look at just the weekend in Mallee, we’ve opened up the 750th mobile black spot tower; Labor didn’t spend a single cent on mobile phone technology, didn’t care, didn’t want to know about it. Well we’ve now invested in 1047  mobile black spot towers right across regional Australia. So we’ve fixed up that problem; we’ve fixed up the NBN problem and certainly; it’s an ongoing rollout of NBN technology.

But those areas and look, we make no apology either for the fact that we looked at those areas which didn’t have any, any Internet access, that didn’t have ADSL2, that were lagging way, way behind. We looked at those areas first and then we went into the other areas, including regional capitals, after we sorted out the situation with the very remote towns and those smaller towns which didn’t have access to the Internet or didn’t have good enough access to the Internet. So we make no apologies for that. But the NBN rollout has been very, very good. We’ve had a mix of technologies yes, we’ve fixed up the mobile black spot problems that we’re not ever funded by Labor.

And of course, we’re continuing to roll out more funding and more infrastructure in that regard. And of course, we are a Government, very, very strong on all sectors of the economy, be it mining and resources which Labor seems to have just discovered this weekend, be it agriculture, be it business lowest tax rate since 1940 going down to a tax rate of 25 per cent to make us even more internationally competitive by 21/22, making sure that we’ve got such things as job creation. Thirty- six months of unbroken jobs growth in this nation.

This doesn’t happen by coincidence. This doesn’t happen by chance. I mean, I’m in Stonnington City Council at the moment in Melbourne with Katie Allen, the wonderful member for Higgins, announcing another $4 million for sporting infrastructure. So whether it’s a basketball-netball stadium here in inner-city Melbourne or whether it’s indeed Inland Rail where we’re investing $9.3 billion or Melbourne Airport rail link where we’re working hopefully with the Victorian Government to make sure that we build that project.

Whether it’s the Western Sydney Airport where work is continuing at a pace, we’re building the infrastructure right across the nation. Bruce Highway, Roads of Strategic Importance, I mean, you name it we’re building it. That’s because we’ve got an economy working back to a surplus budget. We’ve got a Treasurer, we’ve got a Prime Minister who are making sure that they’re committed to ensuring that the books are balanced. And that’s what Liberals and that’s what Nationals do all the time.

Journalist: And just on my last question, is it simply the beginning of plans to sell off the regional arm of the business?

Michael McCormack: Say that again?

Journalist: Is it simply the beginning of plans to sell off the regional arm of the business?

Michael McCormack: Well, we’re making sure that whatever the case might be with the NBN is that the regional communities get connected. I mean, as the leader of the National Party of course I want better connectivity. Of course I want that roll-out of the NBN to continue. So we’re making sure that we invest in the right way. We’re making sure that we roll the NBN out as people would expect us to, and we’re getting on with the job.

Journalist: Mr McCormack, how would you describe Australia’s relationship with China?

Michael McCormack: Very good. I mean, more trade with China means more jobs and I’m very, very pleased that the Prime Minister has been able to meet with the Premier and have a very, very good bilateral discussion. Have a very good discussion about more trade, about the opportunities that involve both our nations. I mean, China is our greatest trading partner and we need to have a good relationship with China. Indeed, we do and that will only continue and will only be strengthened by discussions that the Prime Minister and the Premier have had overnight.

Journalist: How welcome are these rains for drought-affected communities in New South Wales?

Michael McCormack: They’re fantastic, but one downpour doesn’t end the drought. It doesn’t solve the problems of the drought-stricken communities. Now, I know we’ve had 66 millimetres in Bourke. I know we’ve had 10 millimetres in Blackall in Queensland. We’ve had 40 plus millimetres across the south-west of- and Riverina areas. The Mirrool Creek is running for the first time for two years. I mean, this is great. It’s settled the dust. It’s going to provide a green pick for stock. It’s going to provide agistment opportunities. It’s going to top up some dams. It’s going to make sure that the parched land is somewhat better. A bit of a green sheen across those very, very dry areas. But it’s not going to solve the drought. The drought’s going to take many months, indeed years to recover from.

And that’s why people in drought-stricken communities know that the Liberal and Nationals have their back, know that the Federal Government is supporting them there at all times. And of course, we’ll be having discussions later this week about what more we can do as far as our drought stricken communities are concerned. We are obviously in constant contact with our state governments, for whom stock and farmland is their remit, for which, you know, they are responsible and duty- they have a duty to those farmers, to those people in rural and regional communities, as do we. We must do more. We will do more. I know Scott Morrison made the drought his number one priority. It’s always been mine. We’ve certainly worked very closely together. Yes, drought-stricken communities are doing it tough. But they know that the Liberals and Nationals have their back all- every step of the way. Thank you very much.

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