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The things we agree on
The Hon Paul Fletcher MP (PF): It’s the dominant wing of
the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Camp.
BL: Nonetheless, today is a little bit different because we’re
going to talk about the things that you agree on.
We’ve got a little menu of what those things might be –
but remember, this is a non-partisan debate; it’s designed to
discover areas where you agree.
While this could have very easily been the infrastructure
version of the Mayweather and McGregor fight – undoubtedly
with the mixed martial artist over here (Anthony), and the
Marquess of Queensberry rules on this side (Paul) – in this ring,
we want to know where there is agreement, rather than where
there is not.
The rules of the game are relatively simple. I’ve got a series
of questions to ask you. You will respond, and for every partisan
comment that’s made, you will have to say something nice
about each other.
AA: The draft had something else.
BL: It did. I was originally going to make them cuddle, but
we thought it was a little bit too edgy.
AA: I’m in favour of it, but it’s not compulsory.
PF: They just want their democratic right to have their say.
BL: We are so used to partisan debate at state and federal
levels, so the opening question for both of you is: should we
take some level of optimism in the fact that you both instantly
accepted our invitation to come along and talk to the sector?
Should we take that as a sign of some optimism that, at least in
infrastructure, we’re starting to move to an area where there are
PF: There are agreements in areas of infrastructure and
there are also healthy disagreements, but that’s the same
across a number of areas.
AA: In opposition, you’ll take any opportunity to talk to
BL: Let’s turn now to Western Sydney Airport, and this
is one area where there has been a fairly notable degree of
agreement, at least in concept. What are the edges of that
area of agreement? What do you actually agree on? What is
Western Sydney Airport?
PF: Western Sydney Airport is a 3,700-metre runway, with a
total capacity of 10 million passengers, commencing operation
in 2026. Of course, there has been a lot of bipartisan work to get
to this point, and I certainly acknowledge Albo and the work that
he’s done. I’d also acknowledge Joe Hockey, who did a lot of
work on Western Sydney Airport, including with Albo and Scott
Morrison, among others. There’s been a lot of good work done.
AA: There is pretty broad agreement. There might be
differences over where the rail line will be. I think the big
difference that’s emerging is rail from day one. Hopefully this
dissolves, but Labor sees this as an essential component – and
hopefully it will happen.
The other thing we agree on is that the Government had
a difficult position, not of it’s own making, but of a pretty dumb
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