Transcript—612 ABC Brisbane Drive with Rachel Fountain

Interview

PFI031/2016

25 October 2016

Topics: Turnbull Government's $10 million in planning funding for Cross River Rail Project

Rachel Fountain: Paul Fletcher is the Minister for Urban Infrastructure. Good afternoon, Minister.

Paul Fletcher: Good afternoon, Rachel. Good to be with you.

Rachel Fountain: Jackie Trad's called this a $10 million initial down payment. Is that what this is?

Paul Fletcher: Well, what Prime Minister Turnbull and I announced today was a $10 million commitment towards planning in relation to the Cross River Rail project. We want to look at a range of issues, working with the Queensland Government and also with Brisbane City Council, including, for example, what will be the city shaping and urban regeneration impacts and, of course, how Cross River Rail will operate with Brisbane Metro. And so the Commonwealth has announced $10 million of funding, I had the chance to meet with Deputy Premier Jackie Trad this afternoon, a very constructive discussion, and I joined Prime Minister Turnbull in meeting with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk this morning.

So, yes, the Commonwealth has announced a $10 million commitment towards planning work on Cross River Rail, including how it will integrate with Brisbane Metro. But we also want to look at a range of other issues, the urban regeneration potential and also, of course, the question of funding and financing. One of the topics which is pretty commonplace when it comes to funding major transport infrastructure projects around the world is what's called value capture. That's to say if a project drives an increase in land value, generates new property development, for example, is there a way to tap into some of that to contribute towards the very substantial capital cost of what are typically multibillion dollar projects.

For example, I was recently in London where I got a briefing on the massive Crossrail project over there. Now, that's a project with ten new stations throughout the centre of London and I visited one station and I was interested to see the way that they've planned for a building above the station, that will be a commercial building, and the intention is to make some profits on the development of that which will help contribute towards the capital cost of the project. So, certainly, one of the things we are interested in discussing or in doing more firm work on with this $10 million of planning money is what are the value capture opportunities as a potential source to contribute towards the cost of the Cross River Rail Project.

Rachel Fountain: And obviously the London Crossrail project is on a much bigger scale but you're right, the value capture is something that has been floated before. It would be possible to maybe have a development that's like an integrated development with (inaudible).

Now, the 10 million you've said is for planning for Cross River Rail and certainly for city shaping and urban regeneration. Would you call this a commitment to the $5 billion Cross River Rail project, Minister?

Paul Fletcher: Well, what I'd call it is, certainly it's a tangible payment of $10 million and what it is for is for the Commonwealth to work with the Queensland Government, and I understand that the Brisbane City Council has also been invited to participate in relation to the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, but it's going to look at the planning for the project, it's going to look at the business case, it's going to look at funding and financing options. And so this is certainly money which is being spent so that we, from the Commonwealth's point of view, along with the Queensland Government and, indeed, Brisbane City Council can get a better and clearer understanding of the project, understand if there are aspects where further work is required and get the data, get the evidence, get the facts and so that's the purpose of this funding.

And certainly the Prime Minister and I were pleased to announce the funding today, we had a constructive discussion with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk this morning, I had a very constructive discussion similarly with Deputy Premier Jackie Trad this afternoon. Projects of this scale, it is very important to make sure that the planning work is done comprehensively.

Rachel Fountain: And absolutely and that's what this $10 million—sorry to interrupt—will go towards. I mean, how confident are you though Minister that both the Brisbane Metro and the Cross River Rail will come to fruition?

Paul Fletcher: Well, what I think the stage we're at right now is to be doing the work on the business plans for both of them. The Brisbane City Council is hard at work on developing their business plan and—

Rachel Fountain: And, sorry to interrupt you Minister but we are coming up to the news headlines, so just if you had to put a value on this, how confident are you that both these projects would come to fruition?

Paul Fletcher: I think they're certainly both projects that the Commonwealth strongly believes merit further detailed work. There's a clear need in relation to the public transport needs in Brisbane. What we want to do is work with both the State Government and the local council, the Brisbane City Council, to shape up exactly what the proposals are.

Rachel Fountain: Minister, thanks so much for your time today.

Paul Fletcher: Thanks indeed.