SIMON ORCHARD, JOURNALIST: Last Monday afternoon I think the plans for the Nowra Bridge have been released, pretty special way to do it as well, you can see all the information on the website. What do you think of it?
PHILLIPS: Yes look I think it’s great, I think it’s great that this project is finally coming to fruition. I think people can see it. I was talking to people this morning and they drive over the bridge now and they can see all that work happening. It’s great to see it progressing.
ORCHARD: Have you, talk to us about the advocation process on your behalf, what you’ve been trying to achieve with this and how important it is to the region?
PHILLIPS: Look for years I’ve been fighting for more funding for the Nowra Bridge, the new Nowra Bridge project. It’s a project from the start that I championed and I’m just really glad, obviously, to work with my State colleagues as well. There’s $155 million dollars in Federal funding for this project. We’ve got to get this bridge right, we’ve got the detailed design there. But I would certainly urge Transport for NSW, the state government, to work with the local council to make sure that we get some of those finer details right.
ORCHARD: When you talk about those finer details, what, can you give us a bit more information. Is there anything that you see as being problematic?
PHILLIPS: Yes look I think at the moment, like some of the things I’m hearing back from the local council, there’s some things that aren’t in scope, so I’d like very much like those to be in scope. We need to make sure that we get some of those, you know, access points absolutely right. It is the difference between having a good project versus a great project that will serve the community. I would certainly encourage community members to put their feedback in as well. It’s important that everyone works together to get the best new Nowra Bridge that we can.
ORCHARD: Now from what I’ve seen and from talking to council over the past couple of months, there’s an urge I guess for them to make the foreshore, the precinct down there better. At the moment there’s not much down there. What are your thoughts on activating that area of Nowra and what could it potentially be?
PHILLIPS: We should absolutely activate the Shoalhaven River Front. As you know that’s been a real passion of mine for many many years and that’s why I’m talking about talking with the council to make sure some of those access points are right because we’ve got to look to the future in terms of how the community can have better community access for that whole river front area there. I mean the river front of the Shoalhaven of Nowra has so much potential for tourism, for local jobs, and we just need to make that happen.
ORCHARD: What would you like to see down there?
PHILLIPS: Look for years I’ve seen the Shoalhaven Gateway Masterplan. I think we need to move forward and we need to have community infrastructure in place there. You know it could be things as simple as hubs which have power and that so people could come and actually set up there, it could be a permanent area where we can have music and festivals and things like that. so at the moment it’s a little bit disjointed and we want to make sure that the Nowra Bridge project and those access points are correct so that we can revitalise that river front.
ORCHARD: I know that Gareth Ward has been championing this road development all the way down from Wollongong for quite a while as well. Would you say you’ve had more influence on that project getting done or state government?
PHILLIPS: Well I know as the Federal Member I have been in Parliament absolutely advocating for more federal funding to be brought forward. I think you know I have yelled it from the chamber many many times and I’ll continue to do that. I’m really proud that federal funding has been brought forward. As I said, I work with my state colleagues to make sure that we get the Princes Highway fixed faster.
ORCHARD: I know it’s probably not directly related to you, but obviously you’re in the region, Shoalhaven Council have had their issues over the past couple of weeks and there’s been quite a lot of infighting and robust discussion in council chambers. Have you been privy to anything that’s going on there? Do you have an opinion on how they are acting and behaving?
PHILLIPS: Look I absolutely work with council, I’ve been talking to council again this morning. You know the state government, the federal government, everyone to get the best results. That’s what I’ll continue to do, just like I’m doing with the Nowra Bridge project and for Princes Highway funding.
ORCHARD: But if you talk about obviously the Nowra Bridge but that precinct along the river as well, Shoalhaven Council it would seem would be an important part of the process and if they’re busy fighting amongst themselves about different things, is that why maybe this process has lagged a little bit in getting the river front up and going?
PHILLIPS: Look I think the river front, it was really difficult they obviously needed to wait until the Nowra Bridge project designs and plans were in place. So now that we have that detail design out there, we’ve got to have that in community consultation, I think now is the perfect time to be talking about the revitalisation of the Nowra river front. I see no reason into the future why we shouldn’t have you know things like paddleboats and more active things for members of our community to keep people healthy you know we should be a tourism, that should be a tourism drawcard for our area and I think that council would definitely support something like that.
ORCHARD: So you’re heading up to Kiama later today?
ORCHARD: I hear you’ve made a donation to their Buy Local Campaign, is that right?
PHILLIPS: Yes, yes so the Kiama Business Chamber are running a great 2020 Buy Local Campaign encouraging people to buy and shop locally and an opportunity came up to sponsor. You know, I think that’s really important to do because that money goes back into the community to support our local shops and local jobs.
ORCHARD: How important is it to buy local and source different products and produce from local areas especially considering the last 6 to 8 months?
PHILLIPS: It’s absolutely crucial that we support our local businesses. You know, these are mum and dad business and workers and families. We all need to pull together and support each other. That’s why I’m really proud of the Kiama Business Chamber and this campaign and I just urge people to support it.