Transcript of joint press conference – Kippa-Ring Station construction site, Moreton Bay Rail Link, Brisbane
Subjects: Moreton Bay Rail Link; Cross River Rail; public transport; QLD election; Campbell Newman
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE AND CITIES: I’m pleased to welcome my former parliamentary colleagues and now state member for Redcliffe Yvette D’ath who more than anyone else is responsible for turning what was a promise back in 1895 by the then Queensland Parliament, into actual construction for the Moreton Bay Rail Link.
I’m also joined by Chris Whiting who is the candidate for Murrumba, Shane King who is the Labor Candidate for Kallangur, Mark Ryan the Labor Candidate for Morayfield, and Nikki Boyd, the Labor Candidate for Pine Rivers.
We’re here to reinforce what a fantastic project this is. This is a great project of one and a half billion dollars that will make an enormous difference to the lives of literally tens of thousands of people in the northern suburbs of Brisbane by giving them direct access to public transport options. That’s good for people who use rail, but it’s also good for people who use the roads because it reduces traffic congestion.
Today on my way here I experienced that yet again as a regular visitor to this region. We committed to this project in the 2010 election and we put the money in the first Budget after that election.
It was a partnership between the former federal Labor Government, the then state Labor Government and $100 million from local government, the Moreton Bay Regional Council. You need cooperation of federal and state government if you’re going to build major public transport infrastructure.
What we’ve seen around the country is projects like this going ahead, like the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system that is now up and running – with no money for the future stages from the Coalition government – but also projects like the Regional Rail Link in Victoria, the Noarlunga to Seaford Extension in South Australia, the Perth CityLink project.
Right around the country, we as a Federal Labor Government were prepared to partner with state and local governments to build infrastructure. What we saw when Campbell Newman was elected was that he tried to walk away from this project. Of course when we first announced it the Coalition had a policy of supporting it, opposing it and supporting it again within a period of 24 hours.
What we see now is a state government that is winding back its public transport infrastructure investment including cutting all funding to the Cross River Rail project, which would make a difference to those people not just in Brisbane but on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
Here we saw in the federal budget $159 million cut by Tony Abbott for this project in terms of the federal funds. And what did we hear from Campbell Newman as a result of that? That will mean it is an inferior project. You can’t cut that sort of money out without winding the project back. Like winding back sound barriers, like winding back the quality of the infrastructure at the new stations for this project.
Campbell Newman should have done what past Queensland premiers have done and stood up for his state. Instead Campbell Newman stood up for his mates. And his best mate is Tony Abbott.
What we’re seeing from Campbell Newman is a failure to stand up for Queensland when it comes to federal cuts. Federal cuts to public infrastructure, federal cuts to health, federal cuts to education.
When you match that with the cuts that Campbell Newman has made – the vicious cuts to the public sector, here in Queensland, then you have a combination that is impacting on people’s living standards and quality of life.
It’s particularly having an impact on those people in the outer suburban communities. And that’s why I’m here with these five fantastic Labor candidates.
What I know is what our state candidates have been saying, which is that if you want to turn this around you’ve got to get rid of Campbell Newman. Not just Campbell Newman from his seat, because it’s likely that will happen anyway – a fact that the Queensland LNP is trying to hide.
Queenslanders don’t even know who the Premier will be if they fall across the line and form government. Campbell Newman is already unsure if he’s getting ready for a transfer to federal parliament. If he has the chance he’d like to be the Member for Brisbane, given Teresa Gambaro’s on the nose with her own colleagues and with his mate Tony Abbott in Canberra. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.
But this project is absolutely vital. I’m very proud of the work that we did. I remember the cynicism at meetings because this was first promised in 1895. It took a Federal Labor Government and a state Labor Government to deliver it.
YVETTE D’ATH, LABOR MEMBER FOR REDCLIFFE: I want to add that this is a project that was at risk when Campbell Newman came in. He didn’t fight the cutbacks. It took the Federal Labor Government to stand firm with the local council to ensure that what was promised to the people in this region was delivered.
We’ve seen in the first federal Budget of the Abbott Government that they pulled $159 million out of this project. Campbell Newman couldn’t even manage to get one dollar of that $159 million actually back for the state. So if they’re going to make savings, why is it that Tony Abbott’s pocketed the lot and Campbell Newman didn’t even fight for one cent for Queenslanders?
But what we know if you don’t pull that sort of money out of a project without cutting what you’re delivering on. Labor promised the people in this region a dual track six station new rail line and that’s what should be delivered for them. You’ll only get that with a Labor Government.
QUESTION [inaudible] relating to Tony Abbott?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. It’s one thing to, for first time since Federation, call an election in January, while Tony Abbott’s on leave to try and hide his mate.
But it’s another thing to do that after what he’s done. When Campbell Newman had the opportunity to say, no, it’s not good enough that you’re ripping $159 million out of that project, that he’s ripping $715 million out through cuts to the Cross River Rail project.
That is money that went in to fund the dud East-West project in Victoria for his mates in the Victorian Government who were facing an election that they subsequently lost – in part because the East-West project simply didn’t stack up an was rejected.
Why is it that Campbell Newman didn’t object to money being taken from Queenslanders that has been allocated to transport and reallocated to projects in Melbourne?
QUESTION: When it comes to projects and funding for the state and those sorts of public budgets obviously Campbell Newman’s made quite significant promises?
ALBANESE: He hasn’t made any promises. What he’s made is potential promises. These are promises depending upon selling schools, selling hospitals, flogging off all the furniture and then at some time in the future there might be some money for half a project somewhere.
This behind us is a one and a half billion dollar infrastructure project. That is a serious project. The former federal Labor Government doubled the infrastructure budget here in Queensland.
We invested in the sort of projects that you see – the Gateway, the Pacific Motorway. Take for example the Gateway Motorway North, where construction started two years ago. The state Coalition is effectively trying to pretend that’s a new project.
Today I notice in the Courier Mail the Gateway South story, acknowledging that $240 million has already been spent on improvements there for southern Brisbane.
All the Coalition is promising is sometime down the track with no timeframe there might be some money out of asset sales to do a project. How you do an infrastructure project is you say, here is the money, here is the timeframe, and we’re not seeing that from Campbell Newman.
We’re also not seeing that from the federal government. They’ve completely walked away from any funding for public transport. The only reason why this funding wasn’t cut completely – it was only cut by $159 million, is that that’s the maximum they could cut given that construction had already begun with contracts signed. That’s the only reason why you didn’t see it cut back to zero, which is what we saw with the Cross River Rail project.
QUESTION: What discussions have you had with minor parties regarding preferences to QLD Labor candidates?
D’ATH: That’s generally negotiated between the parties themselves. State discussions are going on. We’ve worked out we’re doing out here in relation to any preference but quite simply my message is clear. It was clear in the by-election. If people want myself, if they want Labor here in Redcliffe they’ve got to vote one for Yvette.
D’ATH: My focus is on the people of Redcliffe.
QUESTION: [inaudible] regarding preferences to Yvette D’ath
D’ATH: We’ll release ours shortly. [inaudible]. The LNP will be last.
QUESTION: How do you think the local party’s campaign is going so far?
D’ATH: I’ve had a lot of positive feedback here in the electorate. The mood has not changed since the by-election. People are still very angry about the cuts to health services, to nurses in this area, to education, the attack on our pay, the winding back of infrastructure projects, the cuts to funding community organisations.
The pain is still being felt. This is not something that the Newman Government did just in their first year. This happened every day that they’ve been in government and it will continue to happen for another three years if he’s returned.
QUESTION: How would you rate Annastacia Palaszczuk’s performance so far?
D’ATH: The fact that we’re being told what a close contest this is speaks for itself. They came over as a team of seven, took over the leadership, and we’ve been able to get to the strong position we are in today. I think Annastacia’s done a fantastic job as leader.
QUESTION: Are you looking forward to the economic policy announcements on Friday?
D’ATH: I’ll be pleased when we put our economic policy out. It’s an important policy, as was our health announcement, our announcements on nurses and teachers, funding to develop new innovation and businesses, all extremely important announcements and I’m sure there will be many more important announcements to come.
QUESTION: The economic policy, you’re happy with the policy yourself?
D’ATH: I will not be talking about the policy prior to Friday.
QUESTION: [inaudible] regarding ministerial positions
D’ATH: I am very happy being the Member for Redcliffe. I hope to be the Member for Redcliffe after the 31st of January. I have been immensely proud of being a shadow minister under our leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and I will fulfil whatever duties I am asked to.
QUESTION: Any thoughts from you Anthony Albanese on the possibility of Campbell Newman having a crack at federal politics if he’s not successful this time round?
ALBANESE: You’ve got to ask yourself is, why is he holding an election in January? Why is he putting forward that this absurd proposition somehow when there is a big difference between the margin that he holds and the margin that Labor needs to form government, why is he saying that that’s not an issue? Of course it’s an issue.
Queenslanders have the right to have an answer as to who it is that they’re voting for to be Premier. If the Queensland LNP is successful but Campbell Newman is not, that’s a legitimate question and it’s one that he’s avoiding answering.
Campbell Newman seems a bit disinterested in terms of where he began and his vision he took forward. He said he was going to be someone who would do things for Queensland. He’s done things. He’s cut hospitals. He’s cut schools. He’s cut jobs. He’s cut public transport funding.
Projects like the so-called BaT tunnel, they’re pretty batty. It hasn’t got any cost-benefit analysis out there and is not an alternative to the Cross River Rail which was prioritised number one by Infrastructure Australia.
There was a negotiation between the Commonwealth Government and his government prior to the Budget in 2013 and an agreement from both levels of government for $715 million from each level of government.
He walked away from that commitment. He rolled over and had his tummy tickled by Tony Abbott. He’s trying to avoid scrutiny, which is why he’s having this extraordinary January election.
QUESTION: Just a quick question to Shane, any more problems with signs?
SHANE KING, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR KALLANGUR: No, the matter’s still with the police. Hopefully they’ll get back to us soon.
ALBANESE: Thanks a lot.