Jan 29, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Gold Coast

Subjects: Save our Broadwater; Gold Coast Light Rail; Pacific Motorway; Cross River Rail; Queensland Election; Campbell Newman; Tony Abbott.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s great to be back here on the Gold Coast and it’s good to be here just two days before Queenslanders have a critical decision regarding not just their future, not just Australia’s future, but particularly the future of the Gold Coast.

I’m joined by Rowan Holzberger, Candidate for Southport; Penny Toland, Candidate for Broadwater; and Gail Hislop, Candidate for Burleigh. What we have is an outstanding Labor team here on the Gold Coast and I think the big issue come Saturday is whether the people of the Gold Coast are going to give Campbell Newman and the LNP a blank cheque to continue to take the Gold Coast for granted.

I’ve been a regular visitor here over the years, whether it be to announce the almost one $1 billion that the former Labor Government committed to the Pacific Motorway upgrade in partnership with joint funding from the Queensland Labor Government that existed prior to Campbell Newman, whether it be the upgrade of what is now call Metricon Stadium or whether it be, importantly, the Gold Coast Light Rail Project.

It was always envisaged that would be just the first stage and it needed to be extended to the heavy rail line. What we have from Campbell Newman is saying ‘oh yes it will happen but sometime in the future’, and we know that Tony Abbott won’t provide any funding for either light or heavy rail or any public transport funding whatsoever.

But if there is an example of how the LNP have acted with extreme arrogance towards this region, it’s just offshore here. Wavebreak Island cannot be tripled in size, have this massive overdevelopment and be given away essentially for a dollar, to overseas corporate interests, against the interests of all those people who live here on the Gold Coast. You can’t undertake such a massive project without having devastating environmental and social impacts on this region.

The local member here say she’s against it, but her Government is for it. Her Government, the LNP and Campbell Newman will hand over this Island for a dollar and it will be anything goes regarding development and regarding the impact on this pristine natural environment. The Gold Coast is such a fantastic place to live. It’s also a great place to visit and it’s that way because important parts of the pristine natural environment has been protected.

That’s why the announcement by Annastacia Palaszczuk about protecting the surf area around Kirra and Burleigh is so important and will do far more in terms of attracting tourist dollars and supporting jobs in this region than this absurd proposal from Campbell Newman and the LNP with development out of control, once again back to the old white shoe brigade, that did so much damage in the past when the National Party and Joh Bjelke Petersen had open slather on development.

REPORTER: I just wonder with this, a lot of proponents, there’s not many of them here with parties, but they are here, there are benefits with a lot of jobs that would be created, does Labor around here have some alternatives if we don’t go ahead with this, if there’s some other projects that could be good job creators, especially for the building industry?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we need is sustainable tourism and what we need also is good infrastructure development. When I was the Infrastructure Minister I came to the Gold Coast, I made announcements, I then came back and turned sods on the beginning of construction projects, be it on the motorways or the light rail project, or indeed the stadium.  I remember coming with Premier Bligh, a particularly eventful day, when we blew up the scoreboard that was there and it was replaced with what is now just an extraordinary facility.

The State Government are not committing anything serious with regard to proposals that will assist jobs here on the Gold Coast. They have no timeframe for Gold Coast Light Rail, they opposed it. Steven Ciobo in the Federal Parliament and his LNP colleagues in the State Parliament opposed the Gold Coast Light Rail project. They said it wouldn’t happen, they said it wouldn’t stack up. The fact is it was recommended by Infrastructure Australia, we then subsequently put in, in terms of federal funding, almost $400 million, and funding was also contributed to by the former State Labor Government.

If you want to see construction and things moving on the Gold Coast in a sustainable way, then people should elect candidates, including the three who are with me today, who will go to Brisbane’s Parliament House and be strong advocates for their local community. They won’t go and say, ‘I’m really against that and this but I won’t do anything about, I’ll just roll over’.

That’s what the local candidates who are running for re-election are saying for the LNP here. I say that’s weak and the Gold Coast needs to not be taken for granted. That’s what they do federally, that’s what they do in the state and it is Labor’s record of achievement and construction that has created jobs here whilst also protecting the environment.

And you don’t create jobs with massive overdevelopment that has negative consequences on the environment and that is what this proposal for Wavebreak Island does. It won’t be broadwater anymore it will be narrow water if this proposal goes ahead because it will trash the local environment and after all the environment is why people come to the Gold Coast.

REPORTER: Mr Albanese, the LNP is guaranteeing that their announcement for the second stage of the light rail means that it will move forward.


REPORTER: Not necessarily 2018, but Labor candidates are saying they can’t commit to an extension of the light rail because it will need to pass muster with a body set up under a state Labor Government. Is there any guarantee that the light rail will proceed under a Labor Government.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Have a look at what we have done, not just what we say. Campbell Newman is saying that it won’t occur during the next term of his government and beyond. That is what he is saying. Sometime in the future, maybe when my grandkids can go on the light rail line, maybe they can give it some consideration. They opposed it before, and they still oppose it.

What Labor will do, and Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad who will be the Transport Minister in a Labor Government, if they are elected on Saturday, will work with Federal Labor on these issues after getting proper advice from Infrastructure Australia and the independent body that Queensland will set up.

That is a sensible thing to do but our record is there. We are prepared to invest in urban public transport like Gold Coast Light Rail. We did it before, we will invest in urban public transport projects again.

Campbell Newman has cut funding for the Cross River Rail Project. $715 million was in the budget, Tony Abbott took it out of the budget and gave it to a road project in Melbourne last May. This was a project that would have increased the capacity of the rail system in Brisbane and therefore made a big difference for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast commuters, and yet Tony Abbott’s response was to abandon it and Campbell Newman’s approach was to abandon it as well.

REPORTER: So there is no guarantee that a Labor Government would in fact implement the second stage of the light rail?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Have a look at what we have done. We will make federal budget announcements when we are in a position to do so but have a look at what we have done. We funded the first stage, which was approved by Infrastructure Australia, had a very strong cost-benefit analysis attached to it, it was recommended. I would expect that when Infrastructure Australia has a look at the next stage they would find that cost-benefit analysis stacks up.

The problem with Tony Abbot is that there is not a single new project that has begun since he was elected. He promised bulldozers and cranes, all we’ve got is bulldust. No bulldozers, just bulldust.

His government lurches from crisis to crisis, the latest of which shows that his own leadership is in crisis. His leadership is in crisis because of the views in his own party.

Campbell Newman’s leadership is in crisis because of the views of people in his electorate and on Saturday, if people vote for the LNP they will not know if the LNP is successful, who will be Premier of Queensland, because Campbell Newman is 8 points behind on today’s polling.

If you want an example of it, whether it’s Tony Abbott at the federal level who said there’d be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC and has made all of these changes and then pretends that he hasn’t lied about lying, the contempt that the LNP are showing the voters of Queesland by pretending that if the LNP are elected on Saturday in a majority of seats, that automatically means Campbell Newman will be elected in Ashgrove. Everyone knows that is not the case.

What I say is that you need stable government and Annastacia Palaszczuk’s team will provide that stable government and will also provide a team that will stand up to Canberra.

In NSW whatever their failings, the NSW Government has opposed the cuts to education and has continue to support the Gonski reforms.

Here in Queensland, Campbell Newman gets billions of dollars ripped out of education, billions of dollars ripped out of health, billions of dollars ripped out of public transport and roads funding and what’s his response? He hedges his bets because he’s interested in the next tier. He’s done local government, done state, he’s eyeing off the federal seat of Brisbane at the next election if he loses his seat.

Will Campbell Newman rule out a tilt at federal politics if he loses his seat in two days’ time? I think not. And that explains why instead of standing up to Canberra as Queenslanders traditionally have done, stand up to people from the southern states, what Campbell Newman has done is roll over and had his tummy tickled by Tony Abbott and the combination of Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott is a disaster for this great state of Queensland.

Thanks very much.