Today I visited Brisbane’s northern suburbs with Labor Candidate for Petrie, Jacqui Pedersen, where the Labor Government funded Moreton Bay Rail Link is on track to deliver fast new services to the city starting in 2016.
When opened next year, the $1.5 billion project will provide 650 new weekly train services, including trains every 6 to 12 minutes during peak times, all day express services and a 55 minute journey between Kippa-Ring and Brisbane Central stations.
Upon taking office in 2013, the Coalition Government scrapped funding for every public transport project in the country which was yet to begin construction, including Brisbane’s Cross River Rail.
It was only because construction had already commenced on the Moreton Bay Rail Link that the project was allowed to proceed.
At the time of the announcement in 2010, 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).
Despite this, last week the Government tried to claim credit for the project in the House of Representatives as part of its ongoing magical mystery infrastructure reannouncement tour.
The fact is that it took a Federal Labor Government to make the long-awaited rail line, first promised in 1895, a reality with $742 million in Commonwealth funding.
This is exactly the sort of project the Commonwealth should be investing in to help combat congestion, which Infrastructure Australia estimates will cost the Australian economy $53 billion by 2031 if no action is taken.
Since the Coalition Government was elected, public infrastructure spending has fallen 20.5% nationally.
Those cuts mean more congestion, more time spent in traffic, lower productivity and fewer jobs.
The Moreton Bay Rail Link has employed nearly 8000 people over the course of its construction, which began in 2012.
Australia needs more urban rail projects to counter worsening traffic congestion caused by urban sprawl and changes in the locations of employment growth.
Labor’s Moreton Bay Rail Link is the perfect example of the value of careful investment in public transport to reduce congestion, lower pollution, increase productivity, create jobs and improve the quality of life for residents in Australia’s urban centres.