Transcript—612 ABC Brisbane Mornings with Steve Austin

Interview

PFI023/2016

08 September 2016

Topics: Turnbull Government commitment of $215 million towards Queensland's M1 motorway

Steve Austin: Queensland's Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey sought a meeting with Federal counterpart Paul Fletcher and other parties over the M1 upgrade at the Gateway merge. You'd know that money was promised prior to the federal election; the state would like more. Mark Bailey got the meeting, came out of Sydney meeting yesterday saying his federal counterpart is—quote—ripping off Queenslanders, unquote. Well I'll speak with Mark Bailey in a moment, who's still in Sydney, but the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher was there. I spoke to him early this morning and asked him what they agreed at the meeting.

[Excerpt]

Paul Fletcher: First of all I made the point that the Commonwealth is ready to put its money forward earlier if that assists the Queensland Government to come up with its 50 per cent share and provide that at a later stage of the project.

Steve Austin: So you're prepared to get the project going now?

Paul Fletcher: Well we're ready to make our money available now. The 50 per cent funding we've provided, we're ready to provide that cash as soon as possible. The second thing that I asked Minister Bailey to do, and I believe we've reached agreement on this is for the Queensland Government to go out to construction companies and get from them firm prices as to what they will charge, and expressions of interest or a tender process. Now look, the reason that's important is because what we're seeing around the country at the moment is that when we go out to tender on projects, the pricing that comes in can often be better than the desktop estimates that the government officials have prepared, and so I think it's important to see whether we can get firm costings from construction companies on these projects.

What the Turnbull Government wants to see is we want to see progress on this. The reason that Karen Andrews and Bert van Manen secured these financial commitments to upgrade the M1, Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes and the Gateway Motorway merge is because of the congestion on the M1 and the importance to people in South-east Queensland, indeed all around Queensland of improving this motorway. So just as the Turnbull Government is putting $13 billion into infrastructure all across Queensland, for example over $7 billion on the Bruce Highway, up and down the Bruce Highway, or up and down the length and breadth of different parts of Queensland, we also want to make sure that there are upgrades occurring to the network in South-east Queensland, where of course as everybody knows, population is growing quickly, traffic levels are high.

That's why we have made these financial commitments. They were announced during the election campaign. We proposed them on a 50-50 basis; that's the standard basis on which funding has been provided for the M1 over recent years by both federal Liberal and federal Labor governments. And it actually has been a little bit of a surprise to me that the Queensland Government's response to those announcements was essentially to say well no, no, we want more money rather than let's see how we can put in our 50 per cent commitment and let's see how we can get on here.

Steve Austin: Well let me interrupt there—State Roads Minister Mark Bailey is much stronger than that. He's actually accused you—and I'm quoting him, of ripping off Queenslanders, quote-unquote. He points to a statement from the then Abbott Government confirming, he says, an 80-20 funding split. Now this is where the key sticking point is. You're offering 50-50 for this upgrade of the M1, he says it should be 80-20, and you released this in a statement of December 2014, he's provided us with that statement.

Paul Fletcher: Look, I have that statement in front of me, in which then Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss noted that on a range of projects, we were offering an 80-20 funding split on projects—quote—outside of metropolitan areas—close quotes. So the key point here is that then Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss was talking about funding commitments for roads outside of metropolitan areas. Now it's common ground that the M1 runs through one of Australia's largest metropolitan areas, the Brisbane-Gold Coast-Logan conurbation. And so unfortunately the press release which Minister Bailey says establishes some kind of principle that's applicable here is simply not relevant.

Steve Austin: So your point is that Logan City, which is how we call it locally here, that stretch of the M1, that Springwood-Logan City is a city, and as a result the funding breakdown or the funding model is treated as such.

Paul Fletcher: That's right. This is a metropolitan area, and the point is that we've consistently, federal governments have consistently provided funding for the M1 on a 50-50 basis, on the M1 in South-east Queensland, especially between the Gold Coast and Brisbane. The funding has consistently been provided on a 50-50 basis under both the Liberal and Labor federal governments. But again I make the point, I don't think the people of South-east Queensland are terribly interested in politicians arguing about funding [indistinct]. What they want us to do is to get on with the job of delivering these vital upgrades; that's why Karen Andrews and Bert van Manen secured funding commitments of $110 million and $105 million respectively from the Turnbull Government for this Mudgeeraba to Varsity Lakes upgrade and for this upgrade of the intersection of the Gateway Motorway.

Steve Austin: So let me ask—so all up the Federal Government is giving an extra $215 million and you …

Paul Fletcher: Yeah, there's $215 million of federal money, on the table, ready to spend now on these projects.

Steve Austin: And you've offered to bring the project forward so as that Queensland can get it going. Can I ask you, the Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate was at this meeting in Sydney yesterday; did he make any offer of any sort of contribution for the coast end of the M1 upgrade?

Paul Fletcher: Look, Tom Tate made a terrific contribution in yesterday's meeting. Of course, Tom Tate as Mayor of the Gold Coast has led a council which is doing such terrific work in infrastructure and showing remarkable leadership with the Gold Coast Light Rail …

Steve Austin: So what did he offer?

Paul Fletcher: And what Tom Tate suggested yesterday was that the Council would be willing to look at potentially a funding contribution in respect of one of the exits. Now it was stated as a principle and we didn't get into the detail, so I don't want to overstate it, but that is what Tom said, and he really offered great leadership in yesterday's meeting, as he has consistently on infrastructure issues. So what I wanted to do out of yesterday's meeting, and clearly what Tom Tate wanted to do was to say okay, there are issues where the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have taken different positions, but let's see what it is we can do to move forward. And as I say, that's why my focus in yesterday's meeting was looking at recommending that we move forward to go and get firm pricing from construction companies, and I believe we've reached agreement to do that.

I also made the commitment the Commonwealth's money, a $215 million commitment across these two projects, that money we can make that available really as soon as possible. We can frontend load that money if that assists Queensland to come up, the Queensland Government to come up with its contribution at a later stage because what we want to do—what the Turnbull Government wants to do, what Karen Andrews and Bert van Manen want to do is to get the money flowing so that we can get these upgrades on the M1 built and so that we can help address the congestion that people are facing on the M1 so we can get to and from work more quickly, so that tradies can get around and do their work quickly, so that trade can flow and so that this road can continue to perform the very vital role of performs for the South-east Queensland economy.

Steve Austin: Paul Fletcher, thanks for your time.

Paul Fletcher: Thanks indeed.

Steve Austin:Paul Fletcher is the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure.

Steve Austin: Mark Bailey is Queensland's Main Roads Minister who's still in Sydney. Mark Bailey, does that accord with your account of yesterday's meeting? Morning to you.

Mark Bailey: Morning Steve, yeah, look there are a couple of things there that I absolutely agree with Paul about in terms of the way forward but there are a few things that I need to address here. All we're asking in terms of the M1 upgrades is for the same funding treatment that the same road gets just across the border in New South Wales. It gets 80-20, in New South Wales it gets 80-20 on the Northern Connector in Adelaide, these are all urban roads on the Bruce as well, on the northern edge of Brisbane, so for Andrew Laming yesterday to say that Queensland deserves to be screwed is a disgrace and he had his basic facts wrong. The Gateway arterial north, I think that safely could be said that the city project, Steve, gets 80-20 funding. So you know, this idea that we should be you know funding M1 upgrades differently in Queensland at nearly half the rate of New South Wales is not fair and the Federal Government should be treating us just the same as New South Wales. The second point I would make, Steve…

Steve Austin: Well the Federal Government says they're actually treating Queensland better than other states but I need to get clarity on this sticking point; you say that the funding breakdown should be 80-20, the Federal Government says that for metro areas, whether it be Liberal or Labor governments, it's always been a 50-50 model, so can you clarify for me does the state, the Queensland Government regard that Logan section of the M1 as a regional or a country area?

Mark Bailey: Steve, what I did yesterday was give Minister Fletcher his own federal government documents…

Steve Austin: [Talks over] Sorry Minister that's not clarifying the answer for me, does the Queensland State Government, I'm asking about the Government regard that M1 area around Logan as a metropolitan or a regional area?

Mark Bailey: It is defined, Steve, under the Federal Government's own documents as an outside metropolitan area and I gave Minister Fletcher his own government's document, it's on their website, anybody can access it. They clearly define it as outside the metropolitan area by [indistinct]…

Steve Austin: What document are you referring to?

Mark Bailey: It's a map of the National Land Transport Network. I asked the senior official from the department at the meeting to clarify that and he agreed it was in fact part of the National Land Transport Network so what we're saying Steve, is we want the Federal Government just to adhere to their own funding rules here and it is clearly defined as an 80-20 [indistinct].

Steve Austin: Well they say they are and they're pointing out that it's always been this way, whether it be federal Labor governments or federal Coalition governments that they go on 80-20 funding model outside of metropolitan areas, that the Brisbane —Logan—Gold Coast conurbation is regarded as a metropolitan area, thus the 50-50 funding split.

Mark Bailey: So the question there, Steve, is why is the Gateway arterial north which is currently being done now, done on an 80-20 basis? It is a city project, it is in the middle of Brisbane, it is being funded 80-20, so for Andrew Laming and Paul Fletcher say that city projects are all 50-50 is wrong.

Steve Austin: Did you ask him that, you were with Paul Fletcher yesterday when you asked him that, what did he say?

Mark Bailey: Well they didn't have a comeback on that, you know, the Northern Connector in Adelaide, a city project and it's 80-20, so you know, they're kind of making up these arguments but they're ignoring their own definitions under their own federal government guidelines which was clarified very clearly by deputy prime minister Truss less than two years ago when he said and I quote that the Australian Government has reintroduced the traditional 80-20 funding split for new road projects on the national network outside of metropolitan areas and that…

Steve Austin: And that last phrase is as Paul Fletcher just—you would have just heard him say that, outside of metropolitan areas.

Mark Bailey: And that's how they define it Steve.

Steve Austin: So you regard the Logan stretch of the M1 as being in a regional or not a metropolitan area, I just want to get clarity please, Mark Bailey. Does—do you regard that Logan part of M1 as being outside of the metropolitan area?

Mark Bailey: It is outside the Brisbane metropolitan area and it is defined by the Federal Government on their own documentation as…

Steve Austin: I'm asking you about what the Queensland Government, so you see that, I just need to be very clear, Minister, please forgive me, so you see that Logan City area as being outside a metropolitan area?

Mark Bailey: It is clearly defined by the Federal Government as being outside a metropolitan area on…

Steve Austin: I'm asking you about what the Queensland—how the Queensland Government sees it. Don't tell—I don't want to know about the Federal Government, I've asked them, I want to ask you about how the Queensland Government sees it.

Mark Bailey: The Queensland Government sees the Federal Government's definition as clearly outside a metropolitan area, Steve, it is a simple—the question has to be asked why are they ignoring…

Steve Austin: [Talks over] If you would just answer my question, it would help [laughs].

Mark Bailey: … that's the question, Steve, that's the question.

Steve Austin: No don't tell me what the question is, I'm asking you the question, does the Queensland Government see Logan City which you have declared a city as a city or not? If it's a city, it's a city, if it's not a city, it's not a city.

Mark Bailey: Steve, we're talking about two M1 upgrades here, one at the merge, one on the Gold Coast, it is all part of the National Land Transport Network, which the Federal Government defines as an 80-20 funding model. That's what we're saying, we're saying M1 is the same as M1 across the border, there it gets 80-20, it is the same as the Gateway Arterial, that gets 80-20. It's a very simple case, Steve; I'm standing up for Queensland we're seeing federal government try to treat Queenslanders at a cut price rate compared to New South Wales. It's a disgrace, they ought to step up and work with us and partner with us to get this done, we've got $86 million on the table from the Palaszczuk Government to get these M1 upgrades going and we get these semantic games from the Federal Government to justify them ripping off Queensland.

Steve Austin: Clearly it is not a simple case, because the last two stages of the upgrade of the Ipswich Motorway was 50-50 funding, Minister.

Mark Bailey: Well that was a couple of governments ago, Steve, and it was superseded by the deputy prime minister Truss extolling 80-20 and I might add, Steve, at Banora Point just across the border, they actually funded 96 per cent. Now I'm not asking for 96 per cent here, Banora Point…

Steve Austin: [Talks over] But no one regards Banora Point as a city, as a metropolitan area.

Mark Bailey: It is part of the National Land Transport Network and it actually to be quite frank, it's part of the Gold Coast, it is across the border but it is very similarly settled all around there, Steve, all we're asking is for them to adhere to their own funding model. Queensland shouldn't get different treatment to New South Wales and that's clearly what's happening here, we are being ripped off by Canberra, we will fight until we get a fair funding deal and for them to adhere to their own funding formula to get these projects going. Our $86 million from the Palaszczuk Government is on the table, Steve, we are ready to rock and roll.

Steve Austin: [Interrupts] Well, they've put up $215 million and the Minister's Office points out that Queensland is actually getting the highest per capita funding of any of the states in Australia.

Mark Bailey: Steve, Queensland, in fact, is the only state where the State Government is spending more pork(*) per capita than the Commonwealth so …

Steve Austin:[Interrupts] That's a matter for the Queensland- so but, do you agree or has he- or have they misled me? Here's your chance. Is Queensland receiving the highest per capita funding for roads of any state of Australia, yes or no?

Mark Bailey:Steve, we have got the biggest road network in Australia by a country mile …

Steve Austin: [Talks over] Is that a yes?

Mark Bailey: … nearly double New South Wales …

Steve Austin: [Talks over] Is that a yes?

Mark Bailey: … we've got- Steve, we are the only state where we- the State Government spends more per capita than the Commonwealth. We are doing the heavy lifting but we want the Commonwealth and the Federal Government to partner with us to get these done. We don't deserve to be ripped off …

Steve Austin: [Interrupts] Is that a yes or a no though Minister, is Queensland receiving the highest per capita funding of roads of any state in Australia? Yes or no.

Mark Bailey: Steve, I would have to- I would have to check that …

Steve Austin: Okay, so you don't know, that's all I needed to know, that's fair enough you don't know.