Queensland Labor's transparent political stunt on Cross River Rail
05 September 2017
In a transparent political stunt Queensland Labor Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has today announced that the Queensland Government is exiting its Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth Government concerning Cross River Rail. It is perfectly clear that this is about positioning for the Queensland state election.
The Commonwealth Government's policy is that before it commits $100 million or more to an infrastructure project the business case must be assessed by Infrastructure Australia. After conducting such an assessment, Infrastructure Australia recently announced its findings: the cost of Cross River Rail would exceed its benefits.
Chief Executive Philip Davies said: “we have reached the conclusion that the benefits of the proposed project, as set out in the business case, are significantly overstated, and that the costs of the project as currently presented are likely to exceed its benefits. Based on a thorough evidence-based analysis of the business case, we have found that the rail patronage growth projections and the estimation of project benefits are unrealistically high.”
Since that time Ms Trad has attacked Infrastructure Australia, accusing it of flawed analysis and of having a politicised process.
At the same time, she continues to ask the Commonwealth to fund the project, in letters to me of 18 July and today.
If Ms Trad wants money from the Commonwealth she would be well advised to comply with the Commonwealth's processes and—as Infrastructure Australia has invited her to do—lodge a revised business case which addresses the issues raised by Infrastructure Australia.
She is of course free not to do that and instead to continue her public attacks on the Turnbull Government and Infrastructure Australia, although Queenslanders might well ask whether that is likely to be a strategy which delivers the result she is seeking.
Ms Trad's statements today about the memorandum of understanding are factually misleading. As she well knows, having signed the document herself, it sets out key milestones that must be met before the $10 million of Commonwealth money committed towards planning of Cross River Rail is provided. Recently, Queensland became eligible to receive $3 million and that money will be paid by the end of the month.