Interview ABC Radio Wide Bay

DAVID DOWSETT [HOST]: Well, will the Wide Bay-Burnett get the much-needed infrastructure updates needed? That’s the question posed as Federal Government funding announcements were made yesterday. With me is Senator Anthony Chisholm, Assistant Minister for Regional Development. Anthony Chisholm, good morning.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: Morning, David. Good to be with you and your listeners.

DOWSETT: So, what’s in the infrastructure funding announcements that affects our Wide Bay-Burnett region?

CHISHOLM: So, what we’ve done as part of the Infrastructure Review is have a good look at what the program looks like into the future so that the public can have confidence that what we say we can deliver, we can actually do. People know that there’s been pressures and blowouts in costs on some of these projects and we’ve been critical of the previous government for making a lot of announcements about infrastructure, but not adequately providing the funding for it. So, this review has ensured that it’s gone through these projects so that what is in the pipeline, we are confident it can be delivered on, and the public can therefore have confidence that this important infrastructure will get built. So, a good example is the Urraween and Boundary Road extension in Hervey Bay. It was found that that needed some extra money, so the Australian Government has committed that extra money. So, that’s a good example of how the infrastructure review has worked.

DOWSETT: Yesterday in Question Time, the Member for Wide Bay, Llew O'Brien, asked if the Tiaro Bypass project would continue. Can you confirm that it will?

CHISHOLM: Yeah, that’s my understanding, is that it will and our commitment to the Bruce Highway remains the same. But what we’ve said to the State Government is we want to move to a 50-50 partnership on the Bruce. Our financial commitment maintains the same, but if the States line up to that, that actually means more money will get spent on the Bruce Highway. So, the review found that we want to pursue corridors and that’s how we’ll upgrade these projects over time. And that’s how we want to pursue infrastructure investment into the future, because we think that’ll lead to better planning, more value for money, and therefore we can get more of these important projects done, and I know how important the Bruce Highway is to every part of Queensland.

DOWSETT So, you mentioned the Boundary Road extension in Hervey Bay. Anything else that really stands out for our region?

CHISHOLM: No, other than there’s the commitment. Like what was already in the existing pipeline is still there. So, Maryborough, Hervey Bay Road, Pialba Burrum Heads Road intersection. So, those projects that are already existing will continue and there’s no projects in the region that have been cancelled as a result of the Infrastructure Program. But there has been some additional money allocated to some.

DOWSETT: All right, so for those who are seeing this in a negative light, what would you say to them?

CHISHOLM: Well, I’d say they need to look at the details. And unfortunately, I think the State Government made a predetermined position that they wanted to be critical of us. They want to play political games. That’s up to them. But what the public need to know, and the residents of the Wide Bay-Burnett region, is that they can have confidence that the Federal Government will deliver on the infrastructure program. The investment of the $120 billion pipeline is maintained. But what this does is ensure that we can actually deliver on what we say we’re going to deliver and that’s really important, I think, for people to have public confidence in it.

DOWSETT: Can we expect more changes down the line, or are things pretty much set in stone now?

CHISHOLM: No, this is what’s set in stone. But obviously what this means is that if you’ve got the pipeline in a manner that is deliverable, it means that in time we can start adding new projects to it, but we can do it under these new principles. That means that these projects are properly costed, that they can be fully funded. So, it’s not like the previous government who went around making announcements, without actually focusing on the delivery. We want to focus on the delivery so that these important projects can get done.

DOWSETT: So, Queensland is not being left behind when it comes to infrastructure?

CHISHOLM: No, there’s actually more money for Queensland as a result of this process because some projects are more expensive than what was anticipated. And that’s our criticism of the previous government. We’ve identified those and said where we are providing more money for it. The Urraween Boundary Road extension is a good example of that. But there’s other projects throughout the state which require significantly more money than what was budgeted. And this infrastructure review has really highlighted those and given the Federal Government the opportunity to prioritise which ones of those are important.

DOWSETT: Anthony Chisholm, thanks for your time this morning.

CHISHOLM: Thanks, David. Good to be with you.

DOWSETT: Senator Anthony Chisholm, Assistant Minister for Regional Development on ABC Wide Bay.