Nov 23, 2017

Transcript of Interview – South Brisbane

Subjects; Queensland infrastructure; Cross River Rail; Tim Nicholls; One Nation

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be back at the Australasian Rail Association Conference for 2017. When we were last in government we invested more in urban public transport than all previous governments combined from federation right through to 2007.

Tomorrow we commemorate 10 years since the election of the Rudd Labor Government. That Labor Government showed that when you change the government you do indeed change the nation.

The previous twelve years saw not a single dollar invested in urban public transport projects by the Howard Government. We invested in many projects including of course here in Brisbane, the Redcliffe Rail Line first promised in 1895. It took a Federal and State Labor Government to deliver it.

The Gold Coast Light Rail project. And we put money in the Budget for the Cross River Rail project. Cross River Rail was cancelled by the Coalition Government of Tony Abbott and the Newman Government in spite of the fact that they had agreed to it.

Now, the Palaszczuk Government is going it alone with Cross River Rail. They’re going it alone because of a failure of the national government to get on board a project that was approved by Infrastructure Australia half a decade ago in 2012. Rail is essential for dealing with urban congestion.

It’s also essential for dealing with freight and getting trucks off the roads and that’s why Labor’s absolutely committed to rail as an essential transport mode and to putting in place policies that encourage an uptake of rail.

The current government has not spent some $700 million that was allocated in the first three federal budgets, has been cut. Here in Queensland, that’s $700 million that could have been used for the Cross River Rail project, could have added to further upgrades for the Bruce Highway, could have dealt with other important transport projects. With rail to the Sunshine Coast. With new stations on the Gold Coast.

They haven’t done it. They haven’t even invested what they themselves said they would do. Nationally, the cut or underspend is some $3.9 billion.

But here in Queensland, that $700 million represents less jobs created. Represents less economic growth. And represents an abrogation of the national responsibility. That’s why Queenslanders on Saturday should re-elect the Palaszczuk Labor Government, a government that’s actually committed to funding transport and committed to funding rail particularly the Cross River Rail project that is so essential to expand capacity of the rail network, not just here in Brisbane but on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
REPORTER: Given that you’ve come in as a supporter of the ARA’s national rail plan which calls for a bipartisan approach to infrastructure, is it right that the election on the weekend, one of the key decisions that the voters have to make is for a major infrastructure project like Cross River Rail?
ALBANESE: The industry is very clear. The National Rail Plan that’s put together by the industry is a plan full of merit, full of thought, full of not just the interests of the rail industry, but the impressive thing about it is that it clearly outlines why it’s in the national economic interest to have a strong rail sector.

It does call for bipartisanship. I find it remarkable that Tim Nicholls who was the Treasurer in the Newman Government that presided over all of those cuts – one of the cuts that happened was to Cross River Rail. We sat down with the Treasurer, with the Premier.

Campbell Newman who acknowledged this just recently in an interview I did with him on Sky News that it was all signed off in 2013 following Infrastructure Australia’s 2012 recommendation.

Tim Nicholls presided over that delay after Tony Abbott said he wouldn’t support any rail projects and now he’s saying that this Saturday, if he is elected Premier, along with One Nation who also opposed the project, that they will stop Cross River Rail in its tracks.

That will have disastrous consequences for urban congestion here in Brisbane and also disastrous consequences for those growth corridors on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

If there’s one area that shows the clear distinction between a Palaszczuk Labor Government and what an LNP-One Nation Coalition Government would be as the alternative government, here in Brisbane but for South East Queensland, it is the Cross River Rail project.

For that reason alone, I’m very hopeful that the Palaszczuk Government will be elected on Saturday. They deserve to be so and Tim Nicholls deserves to stand condemned for walking away from a project that every expert agrees is absolutely necessary. Thanks.