Doorstop - Rockhampton

BAILEY: I'm Mark Bailey, Minister of Transport and Main Roads,  here with Catherine King, federal minister and Barry and Brittany - local MPs .

It's great to be here on the site of the future Rocky Ring Road. This project is something that we've been working collaboratively on over the last month or two, both the federal government and the state government,  and this is a really important project going forward.

Now, what we've saw, unfortunately was an escalation in costs of 70%. And so we've been working with local contractors,  Brittany Lauga and Barry O'Rourke have been working very hard advocating from day one for  their local community. And it's a real pleasure to be here to confirm the $280 million first construction phase. So the start year for the Rocky Ring Road was 2023. It will be 2023. And what we're seeing around us at the moment is some early works and moving of utilities and those sorts of things.

This project is going to be funded by federal and state and what we've been able to achieve is the Palaszczuk Labor Government is putting forward -  front end loading  - our $200 million.  Catherine King and the Albanese Government have agreed to put $80 million into this first phase construction. And that's that is a really good outcome for the local community.

Barry and Brittany have been working with the local contractor. And what they've said to us is, what they'd like to see is a reprofiling of the project so that we have more local jobs for longer that would be greater benefit for the local economy and community. So that's what we're doing. We're working with both the Department, the federal government for contractors to reprofile the project to maximize that local benefit. I think it's great news for Central Queensland that the hard work behind the scenes by our state members Barry and  Brittany, Catherine King, the federal minister, meant that we're in a really positive announcement for this region. And can I just say what a pleasure it is working with the federal minister who picks up the phone, who meets with me whenever we need to.

You know under the previous federal transport minister and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, I never got a single face to face meeting Two terms in office, you couldn't get near him, and so it's great to see a federal government that engages with Queensland that cares about Queensland, and we get positive outcomes like today. I'll hand over to Catherine King

KING:Thanks so much. Look, it's really fantastic to be here. This is a great announcement for Rockhampton. Can I start by thanking the Mayor Tony Williams, who we've got here, who came to Canberra recently to meet with my office to talk about this project. To Brittany and Barry who I know enormous champions for this region, and particularly this project, but also echo Mark's words. These projects are so important for local communities and collaboration between state and federal government is the only way we can deliver them.

With this project, and I think we were all a bit surprised to see when the tenders came in at $700 million extra, we needed time to work together to actually make sure we got best value for taxpayers, but also to make sure that we get local jobs and local content. I had lovely I think Grantley Jack and Jack,  I'm going to get his surname wrong, Trenaman come up from the local community, come to Canberra to talk to me about how they've been working to get ready for this project and how important it was to the local community. And also Senator Murray Watt has been a great advocate for that. But that that partnership is really critical and when we saw that the cost overrun we just needed some time to work that through. We've done that, we've done that to this first stage to get the services moving. So today being able to be here on site, see the work about to start in early next early to mid-next year, where we will start to see this project rollout.  $280 million in that first tranche to make sure that we get this project underway.

The services part is actually probably the most complex part of the build. There's a lot of a lot of services to be moved a lot of work to be done to actually get it ready. I know how important this project is. I remember Kirsten Livermore who was a good friend of mine, well over a decade now talking about the importance of this project. And I'm really proud to be part of the Labor government federally and the state labor government here in Queensland, we aren’t just talking about projects, we’re working cooperatively, working collaboratively to actually get this built, and I look forward to coming back and seeing just how much work is going to be done in the days,  months and years ahead.  Thanks for having me.

O’Rourke: Good morning. It's absolutely wonderful to be here today. Look behind me. You can see the new power poles going up. There's about $12 million in early works that needs to be done before most construction can to take place. That's about moving gas lines, telecommunication, power lines, things like that, that are essential, and surveyors have been in doing the new road corridor, fences are going to need to be done all those projects. It is all happening and I'm so proud of being part of the Labor government that is delivering for people for Central Queensland.

LAUGA: Thanks, sorry. Good morning, everyone, Brittany Lauga, State member for Keppel. It's wonderful to be here today to celebrate the fact that these early works have started and to announce the next tranche of early works. $12 million worth of services are being removed from this corridor of this Rocky Ring Road, which is critically important work before the real work starts. Then we've got $280 million worth of early works which will be starting in 2023. Can I think all of the Rocky Ring Road crew, my colleague Barry O’Rourke, Federal Minister, State Minister, everyone who's worked together to find a way forward this project to start work. We know that we will see upgrades as part of this $280 million package to the intersection at Rocky Yeppoon Road at McLaughlin Street. There'll be upgrades to Lion Creek Bridge. All of that work is critically important to the whole project along the forwards as well. This project is critically important to the Central Queensland economy and Barry and I have been advocating for it for years. And so it's great that that despite the fact that the tenders came in over 70% over budget, that our governments have been able to work together to find a pathway forward for this project to start and for the jobs to flow in our central Queensland region.

WILLIAMS: Mayor Tony Williams Rockhampton Regional Council, Christmas has come early for the Rockhampton region, and I'd like to thank Minister King, Minister Bailey, Brittany and Barry O’Rourke, our local members who have been fighting so passionately for this job for this project to commence in 2023. It's a vital project and it's one that's vital for our communities, not only through the safety and the reduction in safety, we're taking those 3000 trucks out of the center of Rockhampton every day. What that means the removal of those trucks onto a ring road is just going to improve the safety tenfold. It also means for our economy, local jobs, local money being spent in our local area will allow that growth to occur in the years to come. So this is my thanks to everyone that's been involved. The convoy, Grantley Jack and Jack Trenaman, that took that convoy down to  Canberra. And I've been to Canberra only two weeks ago with the last Parliament sitting,  thanks to Minister King for accepting that, that delegation, also pressing the need for this project and how vital it is. It's a great result. It's great to see both the state and federal government working, working together to bring a project of this magnitude back to life and back on time, understanding the pressures that were faced during the tender process and the escalation in costs. There was some concern there that it was wasn't going to happen, but now to hear that it's back on track and it's going to  happen that it's music to the ears to the local community and to myself and the local residents. So thank you

JOURNALIST: I guess do you have an actual start date?

BAILEY: Yeah, so this first phase of early construction in the second half of next year, so we've got a bit more work to do. Working with the contractors working out the profile. Obviously we'll be trying to get it going as quickly as we possibly can.

JOURNALIST: There will be some lessons that we have to come out of this project. So where are they? Is there going to be a work camp for them?

BAILEY: Well, look, those details are being worked out but certainly one of the big costs in that $700 million additional was the cost of a very large workers camp. So by wreprofiling we will see that reduced considerably. And of course we're seeing a range of other workers on other projects will become available. We've actually seen a lot of road projects in this area thanks to the commitment of the Palaszczuk Labor Government. So Lawrie Street’s quite advanced now. Rockhampton Northern access is now finished. There will be some people available locally for the project. We're working through the ins and outs of that and because the contractors have workforces that they know they can access and so we're trying to maximize those local jobs so that people can be set up for a long time.

JOURNALIST: Where will things sit now with tenders and I guess the businesses are going to work on it. Is it a case of going back to what's been submitted or do people need to prepare for that again?

BAILEY: No, we're not going back to start at all again at all. This can all be done within the current tender process with adjustments that have been made. We're very careful to look at that. We didn't want to see further delay. So what we've done is within the existing contracting framework, there's capacity to negotiate and call to the tenderers. And that's what's happening at the moment.

JOURNALIST: How long do we expect construction will take overall?

BAILEY: Again, I'll have more specifics for you on that the $280 million is a big first phase of construction, let's be very clear. So that would that in my mind looks to me like at least 18 months of work. That gives us plenty of time in terms of working together across levels of government in terms of what the next phase of construction will be. And of course, we'll have to see what the value is in the market at the moment. We saw a decade of dithering under the previous government who discovered the importance of the Rocky Ring Road quite late. And then by the time we got it to market,  inflation had taken off due to their mismanagement and prices escalated. So, you know, we'll want to see where the market goes. We're hoping that it becomes better over the next 12 months. That we will be keen for work to continue on after this first phase. And that's a matter of negotiation between levels of government. Obviously we want to see the project completed as soon as we can.

JOURNALIST: What guarantees can you provide that we're not going to be in the same situation in 12 months time?

KING: Well, you don't start a project and stop it and we're announcing today the start with $280 million for stage one. It's very costly to stop a project. So our view very firmly is that this will just continue to roll out obviously, there’s work we need to do to make sure that we do get value for taxpayer money, right the way through this project, but we make sure that we work collaboratively with the Queensland State Government to get this project done.

JOURNALIST: So we're likely to see funding brought forward then in the next budget or two?

KING: Certainly what we're already doing, we’re already obviously announcing bringing forward of $80 million for this first phase and we'll keep working with the Queensland State government as we have done all the way along with this project to make sure that we've got that funding in line we reprofile projects all the time. That happens fairly regularly. And it's happened particularly through COVID, where we've seen cost escalations as well as capacity constraints right the way across the community. So this wasn't the only project right across the country. We've seen delays because of a range of factors that have occurred and we will continue to work with every state and territory government to deliver projects

JOURNALIST: How much of this 280 million are local businesses.

KING : Well, again, that'll be a matter for Queensland as it works its way through the tender process. I know that having met with local contractors here,  having heard from Mark and Barry and from Brittany, that what happened here is that local contractors have really worked hard to get themselves ready to be able to participate in this level of project. There's a certain level of quality control, things that they need to be able to prove that they can do in terms of workforce planning, and having met with both Grant and Jack in Canberra, they've worked incredibly hard to make sure that they're available and able to do that. And we'd certainly like to see as much local content as possible

JOURNALIST: With the cost blow out of almost a billion dollars, are you interested in waiting around until that goes down before you make another announcement?

KING: Not at all. I feel like you can say, and Mark is probably best placed to ask to answer this question, is it really we're working very closely with the lead tenderer so make sure that we can actually shake those costs out a bit. Look at the staging of the project, look at the way in which it's phased in order to make sure that we have more jobs locally for longer but that we also again, get value for money you know, these are big deals. You know, this is not the only project that the Albanese government is investing in this region. If you look at the Central Queensland overall there's almost a billion dollars of additional projects and other projects that are happening here that we're investing in and so we're wanting to make sure right the way across we're sending a very clear signal. We are looking at every dollar,  we want to make sure we're getting best value for money. We want as many locals employed as we possibly can and sending that signal really clearly to contractors that this is what , this is the way in which the Queensland and the Albanese Labor Government is working together to get that value and to get those local jobs. 

JOURNALIST: And once this $80 million has (inaudible), are we going to go idle, what’s going to happen next.

KING: No, you don't stop and start a project and again, we will be working with the Queensland Government about how we actually phase the project going forward. As I said, you know, we've had to deal with this issue of a very substantial increase. I don't think there's anyone,  know if you've got a renovation happening or you're building a house and you've got a 70% cost escalation, I don't think there's anyone who wouldn't pause for a minute and say, Look, we need to actually look at where we can get costs down what we need to do, but really, once you start a project, you really need to just keep rolling it through and that's our intention here with this project.

JOURNALIST: When can we expect another update.

KING: Well, again, I know we're here announcing 280 million today. You'll hear, you’ll be the first to hear when we've got more news to share. With the community. Thank you.