Matt Kean FAQ

Matt Kean

Matt Kean entered Parliament in 2011 and spent his early years advocating for stronger mental health policy. Elevated to the NSW Cabinet in 2017, he was appointed Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation in 2017. Following the 2019 NSW election, he was appointed Minister for Energy and Environment. Since this appointment, Kean has added substantial expanses of land to the NSW National Parks’ Estate, beating and then doubling acquisition targets which will mean an extra 400,000 hectares (over five per cent) will be added by the end of 2022. An outspoken critic of “climate denialism” he has campaigned for greater and national action on climate change, particularly in the wake of the 2019-20 bushfires. Championing a more progressive set of energy and climate policies in the Liberal Party, he has argued that the centre of Australian politics needs to reclaim its voice in the political debate. In 2020, he delivered the biggest renewable energy policy in Australia’s history. The Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap: a 20-year plan for NSW’s energy infrastructure that incentivises private investment in renewable energy while simultaneously reducing emissions and lowering electricity bills for the families and businesses of NSW. He has shown that when politicians make a concerted effort to find common ground and put aside tribal and ideological differences, real and lasting reform can be achieved. In October 2021, Matt was appointed Treasurer in the Perrottet Government. He delivered his first Budget in June 2022. In August 2022, Matt was elected Deputy Leader of the NSW Liberal Party. Q&A with Matt Kean
  • New Line Road has been a major local issue for decades. The Government has allocated funds for strategies to alleviate some of the pressure of this contentious road (and roads tying into it). What do you think is the solution to New Line Rd?
It’s my number one priority and I’ve got a proven track record of delivering on my promises. You know, I’ve delivered the North Connex upgrade, which has improved Pennant Hills Rd, slashed travel times, removed congestion, and made our community a lot safer… that was my number one road priority. Fixed Hornsby Hospital, delivered the biggest upgrade to Hornsby Hospital in a generation, $430 million to rebuild our community hospital. And now my priority at this election is focusing on delivering the upgrade of New Line Road.  It’s going to be a staged approach, it’s a big piece of work, you’re talking hundreds of millions dollars, potential property acquisitions. But what we’re focused on is one of the major bottlenecks which is Pyes Creek, and we’ll be duplicating that road from Hastings Road through Pyes Creek, effectively from Hastings Road with dual carriageway, a big bottleneck road. That’s probably one of the hardest bits to do because there’s some environmental issues down there at Pyes Creek and just the engineering required to build a bridge and the four lanes is a big task. That’s why we’ve allocated the money already in the Budgets, it’s locked and loaded in the Budget. That’s one of the things I’m proud of delivering as Treasurer, but this is stage one before we go to complete the rest of the road.
  • Where are you at with New Line Road today?
The business case has been developed, the planning has been done. And they’ll be looking to go out to tender to call for expressions of interest to actually complete that dual carriageway next financial year, as I understand it.  We are looking to go out to contract the work in the next financial year, or after the election, the money is there already allocated. So, it’s now just a matter of getting the right contractor and starting construction as soon as possible.
  • Can you pledge that if there is a change of government or administration that this will still go ahead? 
That’s a really good question that you’re asking. Only the Liberals and Nationals, only the Liberals can be trusted to deliver on this promise. We’ve committed in the budget, and the money has been allocated. We’ve said this is our priority. And I see the Labor candidate and the Greens candidate and the other candidates have not committed to this. I know this community and I know this is an absolute priority that’s why I’m delivering a promise, and not just a promise, I’ve allocated the money, got the program underway, got the initial planning work done, and is now getting on with the job of delivering. And I challenge all the other candidates in this election to match our commitment and get promises from their parties for delivery of New Line Road.
  • Onto Cherry Metro Station [that you were out visiting this morning], which is a part of your new constituency [after recent border changes]. A lot has happened there in a relatively short space of time. The development is still ongoing, carparking is still an issue, there’s concern from residents about over development in that area. What’s your vision and plan?
The feedback I got from the community this morning is that we need more car parking definitely, it was full by 7.30am. That message was delivered to me loud and clear by members of the community. Again, I’ve lived in this area my entire life. I’m honored to be the local member fighting for our community. Just like I fought to deliver Hornsby Hospital, just like afford to deliver the upgrade to New Line Road and Pennant Hills Road, so to fight to ensure that we get the best services and infrastructure in our community in Cherrybrook. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to enjoy the benefits of public transport. Just remember that it was the Liberal Government that promised and delivered the north west Metro, which had been promised for years under Labor and it was never delivered. That’s a great piece of infrastructure that’s improving the lives of people, not just in Cherrybrook, but in the north west of Sydney. But we want to get more people to be able to enjoy the benefits of that infrastructure. That means providing, parking at the appropriate development to ensure that everyone can get the benefit from it. 
  •  There is ongoing concern from residents about high rise development around the station, adjoining Castle Hill Road, population growth in that cluster around the Station, how would you respond to those concerns?
We’ve already said that Labor have flagged more development in the Hornsby Shire, Chris Minns has been very clear about that. And what we want to see is a balanced approach, that gets the balance right between infrastructure, growth, but also public amenity and I think we’ve got a very clear, long-term plan to be able to deliver that in a sustainable way. And what I fear is Labor getting in and punishing our community. Playing the politics of division, and loading up liberal seats with additional development. Chris Minns has already flagged that, he’s already flagged that he wants to see more development in Sydney’s northern suburbs. I’m worried that what he’s going to try and do is make the Hornsby area, northern Sydney, the dumping ground for development and that’s something we will always fight against. (For the dumping ground for overdevelopment.) 
  • What are your top priorities for your local electorate?
My top priorities are to ensure that families are able to deal with the cost-of-living pressures that they’re facing at the moment. That’s why in this year’s budget, I allocated $7.2 billion worth of cost-of-living support for families right across NSW. Looking at our Active Kids vouchers, our Back-to-School vouchers, our energy rebates, you know, at this election, we’re committing $250 off your electricity bill just for jumping on the Service NSW website and shopping around. We know families are doing it tough at the moment due to inflation, higher interest rates and global issues like the war in Ukraine. This government is managing the state’s finances responsibly to be able to support families when it comes to cost of living pressures. So that’s my top priority helping local families deal with the challenges of rising interest rates and cost of living. The second priority is ensuring that we’ve got the best quality health care and health services in this community. We had one of the worst hospitals in the state in Hornsby Hospital, there were more possums than patients in our operating theatres and I fought for the upgrade of that hospital and delivered now one of the most modern state of the art health facilities anywhere in the country. I’m so proud of that. Our community deserves to be able to get the best quality health treatment if and when we need it. And that’s what I’ll continue to fight for. Top quality health services out of our local health system. We’ve got a growing population. We’ve got a diverse population, a lot of elderly, a lot of young families, we need to make sure that we’ve got the health infrastructure and services to support that. I’ve delivered that with the upgrade of Hornsby Hospital and I’ll continue to fight to ensure we get the best care in this area. So that’s my second priority and my third priority is ensuring that we deliver New Line Road, absolutely making sure that’s the number one road infrastructure priority if I’m re-elected.
  •  Will New Line Road still be a key priority of yours if you’re in opposition?
I’m going to fight so hard for that road. I want to see dual carriageway from Round Corner up to Castle Hill Road. This is my priority. I’ve already delivered stage one, $70 million. But you know this will be a game changer, not only for people living out in Dural, Arcadia, Galston but you know, look at those families living in Cherrybrook, it’s a bottleneck around Shepherds Drive, around Boundary Road. I think you could almost say my number one local priority is going to be the upgrade of New Line Road, no matter what. And if Labor want to take that money away, that I’ve allocated in the budget, then they can explain it to our community. I’m going to fight them every step of the way. 
  • You have held this seat of Hornsby for 11 years now, some residents are concerned there is complacency and that fresh blood is needed. How would you respond to that?
I would say that I don’t take anything for granted. I say that I’m so proud to serve this community and to fight for the people that live in this beautiful part of Sydney, I think it’s an incredible community. Again, I’ve lived in the area my entire life, and I’m passionate about the area and I’m passionate about the community. So, I’m not going to take anything for granted. People will see that I’m out there, as the Treasurer of NSW but I’m out doing street stalls, I’m out there doing community visits. I care about this community and I’m going to fight hard for it no matter what.
  •  You’ve been vocal about pre selection. We’ve seen this mass exodus of high profile Liberal and National MPs in a short space of time. Do you believe the Liberal Party is doing all it can to rectify these losses? 
Well, I mean you know, I’m a lifelong Liberal. I joined the party when I was 19 years old and I joined the Liberal Party because I believe in its values, the values of opportunity of enterprise, of freedom and prosperity, like they’re the values that have not only made the Liberal Party great but the values that have made our country great. And I think that every organization needs to make sure that it’s representative of the community that is looking to serve… diversity within our political organisation is not just right, from a representative point of view, but it’s right from a decision-making point of view. If you’ve got more diverse voices, you’re going to get better policies and decision making reflecting the broad cross section of our community. So that’s why I’ve been so passionate in in trying to see that, you know, there are more female voices running for pre selection. There are more diverse voices, people coming from non-English speaking backgrounds or maybe not born here because we want our party to look like modern Australia, because I think it will lead to better decision making, better policies and better government. I’ll continue to fight for that. I represent sort of a younger generation of Liberals. And I think that I’m reflective of my generation of people that share my values of economic opportunity, prosperity, freedom, enterprise, I don’t think I’m more progressive or conservative, I think that I’m representative of a new generation that’s coming through the political system and the community. Just look at how I’ve approached environment issues and some of those things that they’re not Left to Right things, they’re putting our stamp, our values into action, the policies we take forward to address those challenges.
  • One last question, you may not get asked as often, is about your family life. You’re young, it’s a very demanding and stressful job. Where does your wife and family fit into all of this, especially at this pointy end leading into the election?
I guess it’s no different to many families that we’re trying to juggle the challenges of work and family. We both work. We’ve got a three-year-old, I’ve got two stepdaughters and, you know, it is hard but it’s no different to most families.
  • You think? But you’re on my television every day and it really is very different, you are the Treasurer…?
They bring me back down to earth very quickly [laughing]. It’s just like any other family, just balancing different challenges, like there’s a lot less structure in my day. For example, at the moment, my morning calls start at 5.30am. We have a leadership meeting at 5.30 in the morning, and then we were at Cherrybrook Station at 6.30 in the morning and then doing media most of the day and policy work. And then all of a sudden something goes pear shaped and you could be there till 10 o’clock at night. I’ve got a stakeholder at the moment that’s challenging some one of our policies and we’re trying to work through that detail because it has market effects and stuff like that. So, you know, when he’s ringing me up to say, where are you, I’m like I’ve got a board of directors here and I’ve got the Premier breathing down my neck at the same time, I have the Treasury Secretary at me. So, it’s quite a dynamic job and things crop up that you don’t expect and it’s hard to plan for stuff, but you know, that’s political life. And I guess the challenges for families in politics is that I’m a volunteer but they’re conscripts. It’s making sure that when I do have time, that I’m making time and that it is focused and supportive, and you know, tonight I’m gonna have a bit of an early mark, so I’m gonna go home and cook dinner. So that should win me some brownie points for the rest of the week, where I’m out every other night doing fundraisers and events. Like many families in the Hornsby Shire where they’ve got both parties working and trying to raise children, put food on the table, we are no different. We just happen to be on the TV [laughing again].
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