Joint doorstop, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Interview

DCI051/2017

18 May 2017

Subjects: Sod turn on Caloundra to Sunshine Motorway section upgrade of the Bruce Highway, Cross River Rail, Queensland infrastructure upgrades

Mark Bailey: Okay. Look, absolutely fantastic to join Darren Chester and the Federal Government here for this momentous day for the Sunshine Coast and for 40,000 motorists. The upgrade here of the Caloundra Road and Sunshine Motorway interchanges on the Bruce Highway will see 700 jobs flow, huge road safety benefits and the first diverging diamond interchange in Australia. What we're seeing also is that the minimization of its impact on the Beerwah State Forest, where the original proposal was for 34 hectares to be lost, we're now losing a sliver there, only six hectares. We've been working with environment groups to get a good outcome there, and of course we've been working with the Aussie World small business owners to make sure their access is maintained as well. They're an important part of this community, and this has been an outstanding outcome for both those groups as well as for motorists.

Can I say it's also a great day for local cyclists and active transport users who will see a whole new cycleway system through this Bruce Highway upgrade, and that will mean safer movement around—and more active movement around—this area. And it just makes sense to make sure you do that active cycle infrastructure while you're doing your bigger infrastructure, rather than coming back and doing it some other time. So, this has been an outstanding project of cooperation between the Federal Government and the Palaszczuk Government. We've been taking a great amount of care to get this right, to get as many win-wins as we possibly can, and what we're going to see here is an outstanding project that motorists I'm sure will welcome as this area continues to grow and grow.

Darren Chester: Well, it is great to be here with Mark Bailey and Andrew Wallace and Ted O'Brien, and this is a great day for the Sunshine Coast. We're getting on with the job of delivering the projects that people want. It's a project that will change people's lives. It will save people's lives. It will change lives through 700 new jobs during construction, improve productivity, reducing congestion, and it'll save lives by reducing road trauma in what has been a troubled section of the Bruce Highway. We're determined to keep working in partnership with the Queensland Government to deliver more projects on the Bruce Highway. We recognise that the growing pains on the Sunshine Coast are putting a lot of pressure on the community, and we need to keep working on projects that deliver long-term outcomes—the outcomes that our kids and our grandkids will thank us for.

So, it is a great day, it's great to be part of this sod-turning project here. I look forward to the work progressing as a smoothly as possible. And on that note, can I wish the workers on the site a safe and enjoyable experience as they come to work here. Their work will be greatly appreciated by the community into the future. I encourage motorists to pay attention to the speed restriction signs as the work gets carried out, and ensure the safety of the travelling public and the workers themselves.

Andrew Wallace: Today marks a great day for 330,000 Sunshine Coast locals who travel this route all day, every day to Brisbane. I've travelled this route many times myself, and today is a great day because what it does, it's going to represent a day where people are going to be able to travel to and from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast much quicker, much faster, much safer. And this is something that the Sunshine Coast locals have been talking to Ted O'Brien and myself about for a long time. We need these three lanes. We're going to need four lanes eventually, but three lanes is a great start. But what's great about this project is that it is been designed for later infrastructure, for later and further developments, more improvements.

It's great news for Sunshine Coast locals and any way we can help get people from- whether they're in Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast for the weekend, or for Sunshine Coast locals to commute to Brisbane—if we can do that quicker so we avoid this place being called the Bruce car-park, it's got to be a great thing for the Sunshine Coast.

TED O'BRIEN: So, great for drivers, great for commuters, great for businesses, great for cyclists, and it's also great for tradies, who can now carpool and get down to Brisbane or elsewhere faster. This is all about unleashing the economic potential of the Sunshine Coast, and today is day one of seeing this stretch of road—it's been a long time coming—but day one, where it gets constructed. So we should all be celebrating shoulder to shoulder, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Question: Minister Bailey, can I grab you first. Would you, I suppose, would you rather be standing next to the Federal Infrastructure Minister and announcing cross-river rail?

Mark Bailey: Oh look, I think today is about a day of celebration for this project and us working together. I think our position's very widely known on cross-river rail, and we will continue to advocate for that very important project because 2.5 million south-east Queenslanders clearly need more than one inner-city rail crossing when it comes to getting in and out of the Brisbane CBD. That includes Sunshine Coast people, too. So we will continue to be vehemently active to get that project landed because it will benefit everybody. Let's be really clear. It's going to benefit- everybody uses our road system as well, because once that project is up and running, and you'll see a mobile shift to some people, it opens up more road space so everybody benefits from cross-river rail. We'll continue to work with them and to make sure that that project is constructed and funded as soon as possible.

Question: Is it a bit awkward though because considering the Prime Minister and Premier have been at blows at this since the Budget?

Mark Bailey: I've never, never had an awkward moment with Minister Chester. We work very well together, and this is a great example of doing that. We will continue to work with Federal Government to get win-wins on the cross-river rail project, but I absolutely enjoy working with Minister Chester. We get a lot done in this road space.

Question: There's a report out today that claims Adani is going to be given a royalty holiday. Can you confirm that report? It's saying that they'll only be made a pay about $2 million in tax for the first stages of the project.

Mark Bailey: Oh look, I've seen those reports and let's be very clear, you know the Palaszczuk Government and the Premier's been very consistent on this, even in Opposition, and that has been that we do not support subsidising an individual project either directly or indirectly; we've been very clear on that and I don't expect that position to change whatsoever. I think it's an important principle when you're talking about resource proponents that they be treated equitably and that clearly there should not be any subsidisation either directly or indirectly.

Question: Does that mean, if this is true, that you don't support that move?

Mark Bailey: I don't- look I don't put a lot of store in that report. Our position has been very clear on this and projects have to stand up on their own two feet and resource projects, whoever they are, need to be treated equitably. And we've been very clear, the Premier's been very clear on this—she's a very stable, consistent leader. I have absolute faith that this Government will continue to be consistent and strong on this issue and that's the appropriate way to go.

Question: Would you agree that if Adani are given this deal that that would be an indirect way of taxpayers missing out on what they're entitled to?

Mark Bailey: Oh look, let's see what happens. I certainly look forward to the submission that comes to Cabinet on this matter. It is an important issue with a lot of public interest of course. So it is an important matter for the Government but the Premier's been very strong and consistent in Opposition and in Government and I'm not expecting that position to change.

 Question: If it comes to Cabinet, will you move against it?

Mark Bailey: Look I- as a Cabinet Minister I'm duty-bound to support all Cabinet decisions but I'm certainly not in a position to be talking about Cabinet matters publicly.

Question: Minister, back on this project, what's the time frame for completion of the project and what has been put in place to mitigate disruption to people who still have to use this piece of road to get to Brisbane and go about their business?

Mark Bailey: Yeah look, this is nearly a billion dollars' worth of investment so it's a massive project. It'll be a three-year construction time because we've got to keep all of the highway open in every direction, 24-hours a day, seven days a week so that means a longer construction time. So people will also see different speed zones as we get different parts of this project done and move on. So look, I just say to people who need to use this area for the next few years: thank you for your patience, this work is needed to be done, take it easy through here, knock a couple of- five or 10k off your speed, keep to those reduced speed zones. Let's all be safe and make sure there's no crashes, there's no issues around here because there will be a changed environment. So I absolutely thank our motorists in advance for being part of the safety solution that will be needed over the next three years. And it will be scheduled for completion late 2020.

Question: Minister, is there any update on the state planning study to upgrade the Bruce Highway from, effectively, Brisbane to Caloundra that was announced in the Federal Budget?

Mark Bailey: Yeah look, there is a joint planning study—co-funded by the Federal Government and the State Government—in terms of where is the most effective areas on the Bruce Highway between the Pine River and Caloundra Road in terms of benefits to motorists. We've already fast-tracked that planning study—it's an $8 million planning study, it's very substantial, you need specialists to do that work for you and so that's scheduled to finish towards the end of this year. So we've already cut six-months off that and obviously if we can do it any further, we will. But that work is being done as fast as we possibly can.

Question: You talked about consultation a little bit. Do you think that the residents of the Sunshine Coast have been listened to?

Mark Bailey: In terms of this project?

Question: Yep.

Mark Bailey: Oh look, I absolutely do. I think there's a whole lot of- and I didn't cover some of the areas that were specifically picked up and it's consistently adjusted based on consultation and feedback throughout the design, to the point where we've not only [indistinct] the local [indistinct] people, the local business people, but there's also been a number of smallish designs. For instance, just getting across the Sunshine State motorway—there's a dedicated cycleway demanded there. We've changed a roundabout to a traffic signal because of safety issues. It's continually been refined and polished and honed until we've got to the final design. And look I just want to say a sincere thank you to everybody who's put forward their points of view—it's been an important part of why this project's been successful.

Question: Minister, on that planning study, the Federal Government's put some money there and I understand that they put in some, you put in some. Why wouldn't we be trying to grab that with both hands straight away and lock those funds in? Yes, you're waiting for a planning study but isn't it reasonably obvious that it should happen, to six-lane the Bruce Highway.

Mark Bailey: Oh look, clearly work needs to be done. The status quo is not acceptable—that's very clear to every motorist who uses it. We're doing the work. Of course we saw absolutely nothing under the previous Newman-Nicholls Government in Queensland. We inherited absolutely zero effort there on that front. We've had to pick up that work and we're working with the Federal Government to get that work done as quickly as we can but that work has got to be completed. Look I welcome the announcement by the Federal Government in that regard. It's a good step forward and of course we will continue to consider our position to contribute to the solution. But we're getting that work done as quickly as we can and I think people will be keen to see that work done as early as possible.

Question: Minister Chester, can I ask you a few questions?

Darren Chester: Yeah, fire away.

Question: The infrastructure would have been top of the list in discussions between the Prime Minister and Premier this morning, from all reports Cross River Rail was discussed. Have you talked to the Prime Minister about what was said?

Darren Chester: Ah no I haven't spoken with the Prime Minister today but I have had conversations with my colleagues in the past in relation to Cross River Rail. I think one of the important announcements in the Budget last week was establishment of the $10 billion national rail program because it sets out a pathway for the Commonwealth to actively invest with State Governments on projects like Cross River Rail and like the Nambour rail line duplication. It's a $10 billion program where we expect both regional and urban passenger rail projects to come forward and be considered by the Federal Government for funding.

Question: So is your message to the State Government to get their plan together and then we'll consider it? Has not enough already been done?

Darren Chester: Well they're your words. My message to the State Government is there are questions being asked by Infrastructure Australia in relation to a bit more detail and we'll need that detail before there will be further Commonwealth investment. There's $10 million from the Commonwealth already in terms of that planning work and we are very keen to work with whether it's the Queensland Government or other State Governments on rail programs, rail projects that improve the connectivity of our communities. Now keep in mind this project will need to be a transport solution for the Gold Coast into Brisbane, into the Sunshine Coast, so there's more than just a rail project for Brisbane itself. It's a South East Queensland transport solution and there's a lot of detail required in that regard and we're looking forward to working with the Queensland Government to receive further information and establish our position in relation in to that.

Question: And have you had a chance to talk to Minister Bailey about this- what looks to be a bit of a stoush between the State and Feds at the moment?

Darren Chester: Minister Bailey and I have had a good working relationship. We've had all of 30 seconds chatting today and we managed to get our suits the right colour. We'll catch up later on this afternoon and have a more complete meeting on a whole range of Queensland issues. We've got some time scheduled before the Transport Minister's Council meeting tomorrow, and I look forward to that discussion.

Question: Minister, do the two rail projects—the duplication and the cross river—do they have to be mutually exclusive, or is there enough funds in that $10 billion to be able to look at both of those projects?

Darren Chester: No, look, not a question at all about mutual exclusivity at all. We're going to the state governments and basically saying there is $10 billion in the National Rail Program; bring forward your best ideas, do your homework, get the planning in place, explain to us how the benefits are going to flow to the community, what you've done to capture any value you can from that land nearby. We're looking at more innovative ways of funding some of these big infrastructure projects which are notoriously difficult to fund. The list of projects around Australia requesting or requiring federal contributions is huge. We have a limited amount of resources, but we do want to work with state governments and we encourage them to get the work done and come to us with plans that we can invest in.

Question: Minister, the Sunshine Coast did very well out of the Federal Budget. We got half a billion dollars, effectively, or more than for the upgrades …

Andrew Wallace: [Interrupts] Six-fifty, but who's counting?

Question: Well there you go. Well, 650 but who's counting.

Andrew Wallace:Well, I can tell you who's counting.

[Laughter]

Question: The costings have been questioned by the state, even the local government. I don't suppose you could expand on where you get that figure from? It might be a bit light, I think was what they're trying to insinuate.

Darren Chester: Well, it's not a matter of whether the costings are being questioned, it was the amount of money that was available to allocate to more projects on the Bruce. You've got to consider the budgetary situation facing the Commonwealth. Every year there are a long list of projects and other states are bidding for money and, quite frankly, they would've loved to get their hands on that money that was available for the Bruce. What we've done is made sure that money stays in Queensland. People like Andrew Wallace and Ted O'Brien have lobbied very hard to make sure that money stays in Queensland, and that's exactly what we've done.

Now, the scoping works, the planning works that Minister Bailey referred to are ongoing, and we will find out in the next few months exactly what we can get done with that amount of money, including Queensland's contribution, which we expect to be in the order of about 20 per cent. That's how we've funded the Bruce Highway works in the past. So I don't want to verbal Minister Bailey in that regard, but that's an 80–20 split we were aiming towards. Let's find out how much work we can get done with that amount of money, and then we'll go back to what do we need to do next. So it's not a question of the money being a bit light, it's making sure the money stays in Queensland for the all important Bruce Highway upgrade work that everyone's so passionate about.

Question: And just hope that it's enough to finish the job?

Darren Chester: It's not about hoping. We'll do the planning and design work and find out what it's going to cost, and we'll strategically allocate that money to the most critical projects. As [indistinct] I'm looking forward to working with the local community, with the local MPs, to secure the money in future budgets is that's required.