Subjects; M1, Cross River Rail.
BEN DAVIS: If elected, it will be up to the Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese to deliver all this and I’m pleased to say he joins me on the line. Anthony Albanese, good afternoon. Welcome to God’s country.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks for having us, Ben.
DAVIS: I know your stay is only brief, but can I ask you about the M1? You’re matching the Coalition’s billion dollars. Does that mean you’re going 50-50 with the Palaszczuk Government?
ALBANESE: We are. We put more than half a billion dollars into the M1 when we were last in office on top of the $355 million we put in for the Gold Coast Light Rail and $37 million for the Carrara Stadium which was the scene of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. So we have a record last time in Queensland. The Redcliffe Rail line…
DAVIS: Yep. Anthony though, just with the M1. Did the Palaszczuk Government know you’re going 50-50 with them? Because this has been the sticking point here. Do they know it’s 50-50?
ALBANESE: Yes, they do.
DAVIS: They told me last week they were adamant it should be 80-20.
ALBANESE: Well, the Government will put the money they’ve announced in the Budget in May. We are committed though not just to that but to also fund public transport. We in government – the M1 upgrades that we put in place in government were on that basis, so we believe that infrastructure funding right across the country should essentially be on a 50-50 basis but…
DAVIS: Have you had that conversation with the State Government, though?
ALBANESE: I certainly have. I certainly have.
DAVIS: And they’re open to that?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s consistent with what – they would prefer more. Of course, state governments will always want more money but what we want is genuine partnerships between the Commonwealth and the State Government across the board. It’s not surprising that the State Government are upset with Malcolm Turnbull’s Government. I mean, New South Wales, where I’m from is getting 46 per cent of the national infrastructure budget this year. Last year they got 48 per cent of the infrastructure budget. Queensland isn’t getting its fair share. The Cross River Rail project was identified as the number one project in 2012.
DAVIS: And I will get to Cross River Rail in just a moment, I think that’s important. But just on the M1, it’s been a real big sticking point for three years and I had the Transport Minister here Mark Bailey on the program last week saying no, we’re standing our ground, it’s going to be 80-20. The Federal Government, regardless of who it is, I’m assuming, the Federal Government needs to pay 80 per cent of the way. This has been something that’s been going on for three years and we’ve seen nothing on the M1 but butting heads. You’re putting up exactly the same amount of money as the Coalition, fantastic. So that means that the Palaszczuk Government has to cough up 50-50?
ALBANESE: What we’re saying is, as well though, that there needs to be – that’s on the basis of the fact that the Commonwealth Government should invest not just in roads but also in public transport. We did that when we were last in Government with the Redcliffe Rail Link and Light Rail. We will do that when we are next in government with the Cross River Rail project. Malcolm Turnbull…
DAVIS: Anthony, sorry, that still doesn’t answer the question. Does the Palaszczuk Government agree to a 50-50 funding split for the M1?
ALBANESE: We’re not the Government, so they’re negotiating with the Government. What we’re saying is what we will put in the Budget…
DAVIS: Which is 50-50.
ALBANESE: We will honour what the Government puts in in the May Budget. They’ve announced a billion dollars for that project.
DAVIS: That’s the big sticking point, though. That’s why nothing’s been done yet, because they can’t sit down and figure out who’s going to split the bill.
ALBANESE: To be fair, that’s not why nothing has happened. Nothing has happened because the Commonwealth Government have massively reduced investment. This billion dollars…
DAVIS: But with all due respect there, you’re still putting up a billion as well, so I mean, the money is the same whether it’s from Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten.
ALBANESE: Yes, but it’s only been on the table for a couple of weeks. It hasn’t been on the table from them for three years. For three years they’ve put nothing into Cross River Rail. They’ve put nothing into the M1. They’ve put only the money that we had in the Budget in 2013 on projects like the Ipswich Motorway and a very small amount for the next section, that we intended to have spent. That section should have been done by now, moving onto the next section afterwards. They’ve put no additional money into the Gateway North project. This is a Government that hasn’t invested in infrastructure. They’re now making some announcements in terms of the billion dollars for the M1. We’ve welcomed that. We’d said that we will match that. But we’ve also said that they need to commit to the Cross River Rail. It’s important to remember that funding was in the Budget in 2013 and they cut it when they came to office under Tony Abbott in their disastrous 2014 Budget. The Cross River Rail should have been nearing completion by now. We had an agreement, indeed with Campbell Newman’s government, a signed agreement between us. We had the media release all done for the joint press conference at Kangaroo Point with Campbell Newman and Wayne Swan as the Treasurer.
DAVIS: Anthony, it should have happened. There’s so much infrastructure that should have happened not only in the south-east, in Queensland, in this country. There’s a lot of infrastructure that should have happened, Cross River Rail, and I do want to talk about that, just one final question on the M1. Have you spoken to the Palaszczuk Government about going 50-50? Is that a yes or no?
ALBANESE: We have said yes, we will put in that amount of money.
DAVIS: But have you told them?
ALBANESE: Yes, we have. But guess what? It’s been on TV and I’m on radio now.
DAVIS: Yes, but have they agreed to it?
ALBANESE: It’s not a matter of them agreeing. The Commonwealth decides where Commonwealth money goes. It’s up to them to make their own…
DAVIS: To make up the shortfall. Okay.
ALBANESE: It’s up to them to make their own announcements. They’re the ones who have to – state governments actually build the infrastructure and oversee the projects. The Commonwealth decides where Commonwealth investment goes and what the level is. And so I think that the fact is that we have been consistent about a partnership between the Commonwealth and the states across the board, across projects. We support 50-50 funding. We did that when we were in government and we did that as a part of more than doubling the Queensland infrastructure budget and doing vital projects like Redcliffe, like the Ipswich Motorway, like Legacy Way. We partnered with the Brisbane City Council here for that project. A vital project that’s been very successful, the upgrades to Gateway, both north and south, the M1 upgrades, the Gold Coast Light Rail, and Cross River Rail. We had the funding in the Budget in 2013. We’ve lost a few years, but it’s time to get on with it.
DAVIS: $2.2 billion today put on the table for the Cross River Rail. What’s it being spent on? What’s the breakdown?
ALBANESE: Well, $800 million of that will be a grant and then there will be an availability payment from both the Commonwealth and the State Government of $58 million over the first 30 years. What that means is it’s an acknowledgement that part of the problem of why you can’t get infrastructure built, because the cost is upfront but the benefit is over a long term. What that will enable you to do is to bring in a private partner in terms of financing, it could be superannuation funds or any form of private financing in order to get the costs repaid over the lifetime of the benefit of the project. So I think this is an innovative financing model, consistent it must be said with the arrangement that we came to in government with Campbell Newman’s government, after Anna Bligh’s government did all the work on the planning and preconstruction work for this project. So it really was ready to go and it’s been delayed of course by Tony Abbott withdrawing the funding and then Campbell Newman…
DAVIS: Infrastructure Australia though says that the business case doesn’t stack up though.
ALBANESE: That’s not right. Infrastructure Australia had it as their number one priority in 2012.
DAVIS: Now they’ve only got it as a number one initiative.
ALBANESE: Infrastructure Australia unfortunately has been sidelined by this Government. You’ve had a whole range of projects announced where they don’t even know where the projects are going. In Victoria and New South Wales, in recent times, I’ve got a project in my area of Sydney that’s a $17.6 billion road project where the tunnels have commenced but they’re not quite sure where the tunnels are going to come up let alone the dive sites, and a range of other things. Now, that appears on the Infrastructure Australia priority list as a priority where the business case certainly hasn’t been completed or the environmental approvals for the last stage of the project. So Infrastructure Australia unfortunately has been sidelined by the Government. We think this is a vital project that’s important to increase the capacity not just of the Brisbane rail network but of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast as well. It will take – here’s just one figure – 526,000km of private vehicle travel per day off the roads. So it will make an enourmous difference but essentially doubling the transport capacity across the river into the Brisbane CBD and that will allow for an ultimate capacity of 24 services per hour in each direction. It’s the sort of visionary project that we want to see happen. It’s great that Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Government with Jackie Trad, now the Treasurer, but she was the champion of it as Infrastructure Minister, is so supportive of the project and it’s off and running.
DAVIS: Off and running and with your help too if you get into the Lodge. Anthony, appreciate your time this afternoon. Anthony Albanese there, he’s the Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.