ABC CANBERRA BREAKFAST WITH JAMES VYVER
THURSDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Release of coins with King Charles III’s effigy; Announcement of funding for Stage 2A of Canberra’s light rail.
JAMES VYVER: Andrew Leigh is with us now, Assistant Minister for Treasury. As I say, the first coin featuring King Charles III have been released into circulation and Andrew Leigh is with us now. Minister, good morning to you. How many coins have gone out or where have they gone to?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: So, first I have to say, James, I love your musical choices to accompany it. Inspired indeed. We've sent out three and a half million of these new kingly coins. They'll be rolling into circulation alongside the 16 billion coins with the Queen on them, which have appeared since the beginning of decimal currency in 1966. It is a big moment for many Australians. It'll be the first time that most of us have held in our hands an Australian coin with a king's face on it. Then, as you said, just as Queen Elizabeth faced to the right, King Charles will face to the left. A tradition that goes back to the 17th century. Some say to the moment when King Charles II decided that he would face away from Oliver Cromwell. But I haven't been able to confirm that.
VYVER: Okay. I'm sure you've got a rather pressing governmental matters to get on with. So, how soon could people start seeing them and ignoring them with the greatest of respect, kind of taking them as run-of-the-mill?
LEIGH: Depends how often you use coins.
VYVER: Not very often, I think is the answer.
LEIGH: They’re handy for sausage sizzles, useful for parking. If you're generous to people who are asking for a bit of spare change, then you'll use coins for that. Many Australians also see coins as just a useful collectible. Whether you're one of those collectors who's standing outside the Mint waiting for the latest release or just somebody who has an amateur coin collection. It is a mark of change. And the three and a half million $1 coins going out will be followed by other denominations and collectible coins bearing the King's visage.
VYVER: Yes, and coin collectors are very keen queuing up this morning, as we understand it, for a coloured $2 coin, but not for the King's - the latest coin with the King on it. But we're going to cover that in just a second. While I've got you, Minister, you may have heard just before Andrew Barr speaking about this Federal funding that has come for Stage 2A. $125 million or so. Stage 2B contracts will be signed after the election, according to the Chief Minister, and he expects a 50/50 split of federal funding and ACT Government funding. Is that the expectation of the government?
LEIGH: That's right. I was on site this morning with Andrew Barr, Chris Steel, Catherine King the Federal Infrastructure Minister and my ACT colleagues, Alicia Payne and Dave Smith seeing the work that's being done for Stage 2A of light rail. It’ll be another 1.7 kilometres, three new stations which will have very high patronage on the ACT Government's estimates. And as you said, $218.4 million from the Australian Government, $218.4 million from the ACT Government. A textbook 50/50 infrastructure split.
VYVER: For Stage 2B, though, because, as I understand the amount wasn't clear to us because the contracts haven't been signed, we can't exactly forecast for Stage 2B what the amount is going to be. So, for stage 2B, there's a 50/50 split?
LEIGH: You're right, James. We haven't sorted out the details of Stage 2B, but I would anticipate a 50/50 split will be the way it breaks down. That's certainly been the norm that the Commonwealth has been encouraging, not just for ACT projects, but for projects around the country. One of the challenges of the 80/20 split, which was common in some cases under the former government, was that if the commonwealth is picking up 80 per cent of the tab, states don't have the same incentive to rein in cost overruns. The ACT, though, has traditionally been funded 50/50. I think that's worked out well for us. That was the model for the Majura Parkway, for example, and it's the model for light rail.
VYVER: Minister. Good morning. I can hear the bells going. Seems like you have to go. Just as well, I've finished with my questions. Thank you for your time.
LEIGH: Thanks, James. Good to chat with you.