19 May 2017
Subjects: Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting
Darren Chester: It is great to be in Queensland for the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting and there has been some robust discussion between us and our state colleagues today, as you'd expect. There's some very important issues on the agenda involving heavy vehicle reforms, automated vehicles, road safety and we look forward to further discussions as the day goes on.
The Federal Government is, rightly, very proud of the Budget last week. We had a record $75 billion investment in infrastructure over 10 years and we look forward to having a positive working relationship with our state colleagues in the months and years ahead. Quite frankly, the Australian people expect us to get on with the job, get on with the job of delivering the infrastructure that Australians need, delivering infrastructure that will make a difference in the lives of our kids and our grandkids as well.
Can I say, in relation to calls for more funding, state governments demanding more money from Canberra is like the sun coming up in the morning—it happens every day. We expect that we're going to continue to receive that sort treatment from the states, but we simply say to them; do your homework, get the planning work done and we want to be active partners in doing infrastructure that our kids and our grandkids will thank us for.
Paul Fletcher: Thank you. Paul Fletcher, Minister for Urban Infrastructure. The Turnbull Government has committed to a record $75 billion in infrastructure funding between now and 2026/27. In fact, if you look at the amount of money being committed to infrastructure by the Turnbull Government, it's around $8 billion a year—that compares to a bit over $6 billion a year under the previous Labor governments. So we are seeing record levels of infrastructure funding. What we're also seeing is proper careful process in relation to the allocation of Commonwealth investment into major projects around the country. That's why we have Infrastructure Australia, the independent advisory body to the Commonwealth Government, which works with state governments to assess business cases. Infrastructure Australia was put in place by the previous government, it's been maintained and strengthened by the Turnbull Government. We're got a good, careful, thorough and proper process; that's the role of Infrastructure Australia so that collectively, Commonwealth and state governments can deliver on the infrastructure that the Australian people expect and …
Question: Jackie Trad says that the business case that was submitted for Cross River Rail was [indistinct] and the decision not to give funding for it in Budget is a political one.
Darren Chester: Well not at all, the Premier herself acknowledged yesterday there's more work to be done. We're looking forward to the Queensland Government doing that work, providing the information to Infrastructure Australia. Infrastructure Australia, the independent body, will provide advice back to the Commonwealth in that regard.
Question: [Inaudible question].
Darren Chester: Well the bottom line is the Commonwealth has provided a pathway now for the states to secure rail funding through the $10 billion National Rail program. The Premier herself acknowledged yesterday there's more work to be done and Infrastructure Australia has asked certain questions of the Queensland Government. I'd encourage the Queensland Government to provide that information and it will be considered at the time.
Paul Fletcher: And can I just add a point there? It's a perfectly routine part of the process for Infrastructure Australia to assess a business case and to work with the business case proponent to clarify particular aspects of the business case, to seek more information, to work towards getting the best possible business case. This is a perfectly, normal, standard part of the process. Infrastructure Australia is there to be the Commonwealth Government's independent advisor on the commitment of Commonwealth taxpayers' funds into infrastructure projects and it is the policy of the Turnbull Government—it has been for quite some time—that any commitment of more than $100 million of Commonwealth funding into an infrastructure project must be accompanied by an assessment of the business case by Infrastructure Australia.
Question: [Inaudible question].
Paul Fletcher: I might make an initial comment on that. Cross River Rail is clearly, as the Prime Minister said yesterday following his meeting with Premier Palaszczuk, Cross River Rail is clearly an important project which addresses a range of issues we are seeing in our rail networks in all of our major cities around the country. We are seeing greater capacity demands on the network, particularly the core of the network. Now, amongst the key questions to work through, obviously, are: what exactly are those capacity demands? What's the timing? Issues like the capacity of signalling—to let you get more capacity out of existing infrastructure. And I just hasten to make the point; these are issues that arise in relation to the heavy rail networks in all of our major cities, including Brisbane. And certainly, Infrastructure Australia is working with the Queensland Government and its officials in relation to the detailed assessment of the business case and those are the kinds of issues they're working through. That's a constructive process, it's a perfectly routine process, and we look forward to that continuing.