May 31, 2016

Delay to Moreton Bay Rail Link comes after Federal Liberals slashed funding

Federal Labor welcomes Queensland Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe’s announcement of an audit of the Moreton Bay Rail Link project after he received advice questioning the effectiveness of the signaling system.

Commuter safety is paramount.

But voters should not forget that when the federal Liberal Government took office it cancelled all Commonwealth investment in public transport projects except those, like the Moreton Bay Rail Link, that were subject to contracts and were under construction.

Instead, the Liberal Government cut $159 million from its contribution to the Moreton Bay Rail Link in its 2014 budget.

At that time, I warned that skimping on the rail line would reduce its quality.

Indeed, at a media conference at Kippa-Ring on 14 January 2015, I said:

‘‘That will mean it is an inferior project. You can’t cut that sort of money out without winding the project back.’’

When it opens, the Moreton Bay Rail Link will provide a convenient way for thousands of commuters who travel each working day into central Brisbane from the city’s rapidly growing northern fringe and the Redcliffe Peninsula.

Its completion will reduce traffic congestion, thereby boosting economic productivity and jobs growth.

It will provide 650 new weekly train services, including trains every six to 12 minutes during peak times, all-day express services and a 55-minute journey between Kippa-Ring and Brisbane Central stations.

The Liberals’ cuts to the Moreton Bay Rail Link fit in with its general lack of support for investment in public transport.

At the time of its announcement in 2010, the then-Liberal candidate for Petrie, Dean Teasdale, told ABC radio “now is not the time’’ to spend the money to build the line. (Interview with Spencer Howson, ABC612 27 July, 2010).

Only a Shorten Labor Government will invest in public transport and get on with the roads, freight rail lines and other infrastructure Australia needs to underpin economic growth.