Speech to the M1 Forum – Confronting the Challenge of Growth in South East Queensland – Loganholme – Tuesday, 17 July 2018
I’d like to acknowledge Labor’s terrific candidate for Forde, Des Hardman, for organising today’s forum and for his tireless advocacy for action on infrastructure for this region.
Good government is about planning and building for the future.
Indeed, central to keeping South East Queensland moving must be a commitment to delivering modern, well planned infrastructure.
In that respect there is no more important piece of road infrastructure than the
The Pacific Motorway – the M1 – connects Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, to the State’s second-biggest and one of its fastest-growing cities, the Gold Coast, and onward to northern NSW.
Each day 155,000 vehicles use the M1.
That makes it the busiest road in Queensland and one of the busiest in the country.
The M1 is also a vital section of Australia’s east coast freight and logistics network.
It is used by heavy vehicles needing to access the Acacia Ridge Intermodal, Port of Brisbane, Brisbane’s CBD and Brisbane Airport.
The road is set to become an even more important freight route, with heavy vehicle traffic expected to increase annually by between 3 and 4 per cent, compared to growth of between 1 and 2 per cent in overall traffic volumes.
And it is a key gateway to the Gold Coast for international and domestic tourists.
FEDERAL LABOR’S RECORD
Because of all of these reasons, the former Federal Labor Government had a clear vision: an M1 which supported, rather than hindered, Queensland’s economic development.
We backed that vision with real money for real projects that have made a real difference.
All up, we invested $455 million on the road, matched dollar-for-dollar by the then Bligh Labor Government.
As part of this unprecedented capital works program, we:
- Widened from four to six lanes the section between Worongary and Mudgeeraba, as well as the section between Nerang South and Worongary;
- Rebuilt the Coomera, Nerang South, Mudgeeraba, Robina and Varsity Lake interchanges; and
- Upgraded the Springwood South to Daisy Hill section.
Collectively, these upgrades to the M1 eliminated choke-points, eased congestion, improved safety, and ultimately, helped to keep people and freight moving.
This investment was part of the $6.3 billion the former Federal Labor Government committed to major infrastructure projects across the South East corner.
That was more than what the Howard Government spent across the entire state of Queensland over a similar period of time.
Labor’s other transformative projects included:
- A $2.5 billion investment in the Ipswich Motorway between Dinmore and Darra, an upgrade that remains South East Queensland’s largest-ever Federally-funded road project;
- A $195 million investment in the Bruce Highway between Caboolture and Caloundra;
- Construction of the Redcliffe Peninsula Link, a rail line first mooted more than a century ago in 1895;
- Gold Coast Rapid Transit: A 13km light rail network connecting Griffith University to Broadbeach. Delivery of the $365 million investment was the most significant Commonwealth investment ever in light rail;
- Construction of a new interchange at the intersection between Mains and Kessels Roads in Macgregor; and
- The $1.5 billion Legacy Way: A 4.6 km tunnel connecting the Western Freeway at Toowong with the Inner City Bypass at Kelvin Grove.
All up, we more than doubled annual Federal investment from $143 to $314 per Queenslander.
Despite all their talk, it took the Liberals in Canberra more than an entire
term in government to commit anything meaningful to the M1.
We’ve had five wasted years, during which the pressure on this vital section of the National Land Transport Network has being growing and congestion has been worsening.
Despite all the hype that surrounded this year’s Federal Budget, the Budget Papers’ fine print revealed that only 10 per cent of the funding allocated to new Queensland projects will be available before 2022-23.
Simply put, Queenslanders hoping for the extra rail and road funding promised in the days leading up to the 2018 Budget will have to re-elect the Coalition not once, but twice more before the bulk of the money flows.
This is simply absurd. It’s investment on the Never-Never.
The situation with respect to the proposed M1 upgrades is not very positive either.
Of the $1 billion committed to widening the Motorway between Varsity Lakes and Tugun and between Eight Miles Plains and Daisy Hills, just 1 per cent will be available in the current financial year to advance those projects.
Eighty-five percent of the funding won’t be available until after the four-year Forward Estimates.
Again, if you are a motorist or a truck driver, you will have to wait for years before the Turnbull Government delivers the faster, safer, less frustrating driving conditions you require and deserve now.
A LABOR GOVERNMENT
Over the next few decades the population of South East Queensland is projected to increase by 2.2 million people.
Indeed, by the early 2030s, 5.5 million people – or almost one in six Australians – will be calling this part of our country home.
Managing that growth will not be easy.
But the business-as-usual approach of the Government is not an option.
Infrastructure Australia is forecasting that without action now, the cost of this traffic congestion within the region will increase to $9.2 billion a year by 2031.
A significant proportion of that blowout will be the result of the increasing capacity constraints along key sections of the M1.
While it is of course the responsibility of the State Government to take the lead when it comes to identifying Queensland’s long-term infrastructure needs, it’s also the case that modernising the State’s infrastructure – including the M1 – is ultimately a task too big for it alone to achieve.
It will require a partnership between the State and the private sector.
And it will require a national government that’s prepared to play its part in the national interest.
That’s precisely what Federal Labor is offering.
We will work with the Queensland Government to fast track, as much as possible, the proposed M1 upgrades – Varsity Lakes to Tugun; Eight Miles Plains to Daisy Hills – and begin the necessary planning work on future upgrades.
As well as helping to tackle congestion, there is also an important safety dimension to these upgrades.
Each year there are 12,000 road accidents reported on the Motorway.
But as well as upgrading the M1, Federal Labor also understands that if we are to build productive, sustainable and liveable cities where communities can grow and prosper, governments need to invest in both their road and rail infrastructure.
That’s why the next Federal Labor Government will back Cross River Rail.
We will invest $2.24 billion of Federal funding to deliver the project in partnership with the Queensland Government.
This transformative project will unlock South East Queensland’s urban rail network and deliver more trains, more often for commuters, including to and from the Gold Coast.
This in turn will take pressure of the region’s major arterial roads, including the M1.
Let me finish by paying tribute to the Deputy Premier.
In her first Budget as Treasurer Jackie proved once again that when it comes to infrastructure, you can always rely on Labor to deliver.
We are the party of nation building. The others talk, we build.
Only Labor – both Federal and State – has a plan to keep South East Queensland moving.
It’s a plan that recognises that the difficult task of renewing and expanding this region’s transport infrastructure requires a genuine partnership between governments.
The long-term national interest demands nothing less.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.