Oct 28, 2010

Question without notice – Moreton Bay Rail Link

Mrs D’ATH (3:10 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Can the minister advise the House how work is progressing on the Moreton Bay rail link—

Mr Dutton interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member for Dickson has been warned. Or if he hasn’t, he is now! I apologise to the member for Petrie; she can recommence her question.

Mrs D’ATH —Can the minister advise how work is progressing on the Moreton Bay rail link, and how has this project been received by local stakeholders? Will the minister also clarify which levels of government are delivering the Moreton Bay rail link?

Mr Hockey interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney is now warned.

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) —I thank the member for Petrie for her question and her outstanding advocacy over a long time to make sure that the Moreton Bay rail link becomes a reality. This is a great project that will open up public transport travel for the people of the Redcliffe Peninsula. It will also benefit those communities further up the Bruce Highway, because it will alleviate urban congestion. It will make a difference to climate change. We need to transfer more people out of private cars and onto public transport as part of dealing with climate change.

The rail link will cut travel time from Kippa-Ring to the Brisbane CBD to just 45 minutes, so it is not surprising that this project has a great deal of support in the local community. That is why, on 26 August, the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland, with the Mayor of Moreton Shire and the local member, announced support for the rail link—that a Gillard Labor government would turn this into a reality. The planning and preconstruction work will be done now, with construction to commence in 2012 and be completed in 2016.

I am asked how the project has been received, and of course there has been a great deal of support for it, with one exception—the LNP candidate for Petrie, Dean Teasdale. He said on the day, ‘Now is not the time’ to build this rail link. This is a project that has been talked about since 1895—but now is not the time, according to the LNP, to move ahead with it. That opposition lasted about as long as one of the member for Sturt’s excuses—not very long at all. By the afternoon the Leader of the Opposition undermined the local candidate by saying he would support it and he would match the commitment. So first they are against it, then they are for it.

I am asked which levels of government are responsible for delivering the project. There is the Gillard Labor government, there is the Bligh Labor government and there is the local council. But there is some confusion out there. Election ads have started in Petrie already, and in this week’s local paper there is an ad by Dean Teasdale referring to ‘supporting regional action in Petrie; delivering the Moreton Bay rail link’. The LNP are paying for it! Not the government—the LNP! They are doing so well out of their tobacco donations that they are able to build rail lines. It is an unbelievable performance. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say now is not the time to build the rail link and then try to claim credit for it.

Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I simply wish to appeal to the spirit of the reform agreement that was entered into by both sides of this House and ask you, Mr Speaker—

Government members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat until the House comes to order.

Mr Abbott —Mr Speaker, I am simply reminding, if I may, all members of the House that there is an agreement which talks about a new paradigm, which talks about a parliament which does not sink to the levels that, sadly, we all too often sank to in the last parliament. Mr Speaker, I ask you: how is this answer consistent with that paradigm?

The SPEAKER —The reference to donations was outside of the standing orders, and that was unnecessary. The other aspects are within the question and within the standing orders. But to add extraneous matter should be avoided.

Mr ALBANESE —Federal investment in public transport infrastructure has gone from zero dollars to $7 billion. We now have major rail infrastructure projects in urban public transport in every capital city on the mainland including this Moreton Bay rail link, including the Parramatta to Epping rail link project, including the Northbridge rail project, including the regional rail link in Victoria, including the Noarlunga to Seaford rail line in South Australia, where we signed the contracts last week, and including also the Gold Coast light rail project.