Jan 15, 2015

Transcript of joint press conference – Kangaroo Point, Brisbane

Subjects: Public transport, Cross River Rail, Moreton Bay Rail Link Campbell Newman, Tony Abbott.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT, CITIES, AND TOURISM: Good morning on this beautiful Queensland day by the Brisbane River.

I’m joined by Jackie Trad, the Shadow Transport Minister but also local member here, and Grace Grace who’s the candidate for Brisbane Central, and hopefully will return to the Queensland Parliament after January 31st.

I’m here at the very spot where Campbell Newman agreed that there would be a joint announcement between the Federal Labor Government and the Queensland Coalition Government about the Cross River Rail project. It was agreed and in the 2013 Budget we provided $715 million of investment for this project.

The Queensland Government had agreed they would match that with $715 million. We had superannuation funds interested in participating in what would be a co-investment in this vital project for the future not just for Brisbane, but also the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

That followed Infrastructure Australia’s recommendation in June 2012. Infrastructure Australia identified the Cross River Rail project as the best infrastructure project in the country bar none, because of what it would do to transform Brisbane and to deal with the issue of traffic congestion. Good for commuters, good for those people who live near the new station, good also for those people who use the roads, because it would be taking cars off those roads.

Campbell Newman, when Tony Abbott made his decision that there would be no Commonwealth investment in any public transport projects, instead of standing up for Queensland he rolled over like a little puppy wanting to have his tummy tickled by Mr Abbott. Campbell Newman should have stood up for his state. Instead he stood up for his mate. Queensland and Brisbane has suffered as a result of that.

JACKIE TRAD, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND MAIN ROADS; Thanks Anthony and thank you for all being here today. Can I particularly thank Anthony who is a passionate advocate for public transport infrastructure not only for Queensland in the South East Corner but right across Australia. Can I also acknowledge Grace Grace who’s here today who will hopefully join the Labor Party in the Queensland Parliament after the election on the 31st of January.

Of course we know that Campbell Newman has been fast and furious in his promises over the last three days. He’s promised infrastructure throughout Brisbane and throughout the regions only today. But we also know his promises around infrastructure spend can only happen if he sells our assets, if he sells the power infrastructure, the power assets that Queensland mums and dads have built up over hundreds of years.

We know without the right price, the Premier has said himself, that these assets won’t be sold. If that happens, any commitment he has to funding, any infrastructure promises he’s made this week fall over, and we also know that his commitment to fund his second rate second river crossing falls over as well.

There’ll be no money for the Bus and Train Tunnel, which has been resoundingly criticised and rejected by transport planners and transport experts right across the country. No funding will be provided for Queensland rail. Rail in the south-east corner will hit a rail capacity crisis.

Campbell Newman needs to detail how he’s going to fix the rail crisis that presents itself only next year in 2016 if he doesn’t get his asset sales. Does he have a secret plan B? Is he looking at sacking more public servants? Are there 20,000 more public servants that he is prepared to sack to fund this project? Are there more deep cuts that he has planned for frontline services to fund the projects that he has promised but that he can’t deliver unless he gets the right price for selling our assets? I’d now like to hand over to Grace Grace to make a few remarks.

GRACE GRACE, CANDIDATE FOR BRISBANE CENTRAL: It’s actually astonishing that you have $715 million on the table to build infrastructure that the city desperately needs and Campbell Newman turns his back on it. I’m astonished.

The inner city needs this public infrastructure. It could have started already had Campbell Newman not walked away and backed his mate Abbott. I’m standing here today saying we need this infrastructure. If Labor gets in this is where it’s going to start and this is infrastructure we need to have in the inner city.

ALBANESE: Happy to take questions.

QUESTION: Where’s the money coming from?

ALBANESE: We had money in the Budget – allocated in the Budget already. $715 million. What Mr Abbott did was take money that had been allocated for infrastructure here in Brisbane that had been approved by Infrastructure Australia and send it off to his mates in Melbourne for the East-West Link that has fallen over because it doesn’t stack up. It had a cost-benefit ratio of 0.45 or 45 cents return for every dollar spent. Goodness knows what the batty BaT proposal has because no one has got to see it. We know the Cross River Rail project stacks up. The BaT proposal is inferior, unfunded, and here we have all of Campbell Newman’s infrastructure promises.

What’s he saying is that they’re dependent upon the sale of assets. During most campaigns political parties tell you what they’ll give to the people. What Campbell Newman is doing is saying what he’ll take from the people – things that they already own – and where does it stop? I don’t think it’s just power. It’s schools, it’s hospitals, in order to fund these promises that aren’t really promises, they’re maybes. It’s quite astonishing.

People here in Brisbane can have a look at what Labor governments did in cooperation. They don’t have to think about it, they don’t have to theorise. They can go to the Ipswich Motorway and have a look. They can go to the Gateway project and have a look. They can go to the Pacific Motorway. They can go and ride on the Gold Coast Rapid Transit system.

Mr Newman and Mr Abbott aren’t saying what will happen with the second stage that will link up with the main rail line. It was always envisaged that there’d be a Stage 2. From this mob, there’s nothing to say about it, and we have a Commonwealth Games coming up very shortly where construction will have to begin if it is going to meet the expectations that are there.

Yesterday I visited the Moreton Bay Rail Link. When Campbell Newman came in he tried to withdraw the funding from it. Tony Abbott cut $159 million from the project in the Budget in May last year and from Campbell Newman you didn’t have as much as a whimper about the cuts that were made. I’m very proud of the record that both Federal Labor and Queensland Labor have when it comes to infrastructure; building roads, but also building public transport.

QUESTION: There are many Federal Labor figures in Queensland at the moment. How much time will you be spending campaigning on these and other Queensland election issues?

ALBANESE: I’ll be here in Brisbane on Sunday night. On Sunday during the day I’ll be in Mackay. I’ll be in other parts of regional Queensland and I’ll be back here right up until January 31. I’ve got to say, I’m always pleased to be in Queensland but I’m particularly pleased to be here campaigning not only for the ideas that Federal Labor have, but the ideas that Federal Labor wants to partner with Queensland Labor for.

If Tony Abbott were here I’d be happy to have a discussion with him. But I haven’t run into him yet and it’s unlikely I’ll run into him while I’m here, whether that’s in Brisbane, Townsville, or the Sunshine Coast. Tony Abbott’s nowhere to be seen.

Well Campbell Newman can’t run. Campbell Newman is running from his relationship with Tony Abbott. He’s not prepared to stand up to Tony Abbott. So I think there is a legitimate role for Federal Labor as part of this campaign supporting our colleagues in Queensland Labor.

I’ve known these two fine women for a very long time. They’re good friends of mine. It’s a tragedy that someone like Grace Grace has had a period outside of the parliament. There’s no doubt that the parliament would be better for her re-election but there’s also no doubt that Jackie Trad needs to just remove that one word from her title which is “shadow”. If that’s the case, Queensland will benefit. Thanks.