Transcript - Doorstop, Brisbane

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: Thanks everyone for joining us for this important announcement today. What we know in Queensland is that too many lives are lost on the road through traffic accidents. We know that in Queensland, a decentralised state, people often have to travel long distances. So, it's really important that Federal and State Governments work together on the Road Safety Program that we're announcing the funding for today. It's really pleasing that we can partner with the State Government to invest $511 million on improvements to roads all over the state. This is going to make a significant difference to improving outcomes on safety, passing lanes on places for people to stop and on intersections just like the one behind us that's been improved over the last 12 months. So, we're really pleased, as part of the Federal Government, to partner with the Queensland State Government on this. We know that in Queensland, in such a big state, it is really important that we do make these investments. I'm really pleased that of the $511 million, $430 million will be spent in regional and rural areas of Queensland. So, that ensures that we're making safety upgrades all across the state. So, thanks to the State Government and Minister Mellish for their involvement in this and the Federal Government are really proud to be working with them to make sure we provide those safety upgrades and I'll hand over to Bart.

BART MELLISH [QLD STATE MINISTER]: Thanks, Anthony. It's fantastic to be here this morning with Senator Chisholm to announce over $500 million to be spent on over 70 projects right across the state and over $400 million of that is in regional Queensland. So, our share of the funding, 50/50 funding, is completely from our Cameras Detected Offence Program. So, people wonder where their fines go, they go to fixing intersections just like this one behind us. So, this intersection, prior to our jointly funded project with the Federal Government, had some pretty unsafe components to it. When you're turning corners, there'd almost be incidents on a daily basis. So, this is a great example of some of these small fixes that we can do in conjunction with the Federal Government to improve safety right across the state. So, really pleased that we can announce $500 million worth of more projects to help people get around safer, get around quicker and to improve the liveability of our state Thank you.

JOURNALIST: I have questions on other things, is that alright Minister? What's happening with this licensing registration technology?

MELLISH: Sure. So, it's become apparent to me as the new incoming Minister, there have been a number of issues recently to do with our licensing system, to do with our registration system and quite frankly some of these issues, they're not good enough. So, I've asked for the department to investigate options for replacing our very old, since 1993 I think it is, Licensing and Registration System. So, we're investing $8 million to look at options for how we can improve this system going forward. It's basically been around since before the internet. So, there's been a number of issues that have come to light. We've had a few reports on that. We're releasing those reports. I really want to be open and transparent about this. A new Minister with a new Director General and we're taking a new approach to these issues.

JOURNALIST: Is it a bit embarrassing for the State Government to have to have spent that much money given how long it's been since you've done any upgrades?

MELLISH: So, in relation to our licensing and our registration system, absolutely. It's not good enough that this system has been around since 1993 and we've been vaulting on corrections, we've been vaulting on amendments to the system since then and it's getting more and more complicated to fix, more and more complicated to adjust. So, the Department have told me they're really looking at new options for this. I'm supportive of that and I really want to see going forward how we can improve this system.

JOURNALIST: Have we had people driving around, who shouldn't have been driving around, by themselves?

MELLISH: Sorry, what's that?

JOURNALIST: Have we had people driving around as P platers when they weren't yet allowed to or shouldn't have been?

MELLISH: So, we've detected a number of instances of that and that's very disappointing. As the incoming Minister, you expect a system like this to be functioning properly, you expect it to be functioning well. And whether we're talking IT errors, human errors or a combination of those, I really firstly want to get to the bottom of what caused these issues, and secondly, begin to implement process and begin to implement accountability in the Department, so that these issues don't happen again.

JOURNALIST: How long have these issues been known?

MELLISH: So, since the system was around in 1993, there have been a number of issues over a number of years. They've been addressed as they've come up, but it's become more apparent that we need a whole of system review, we need a whole system solution.

JOURNALIST: What was the triggering point to decide that, 'no, there's that many issues and it's not good enough and needs to be changed’?

MELLISH: I suppose this latest instance of the license renewals is probably what really indicated to me that we really need to get cracking on a new solution.

JOURNALIST: Minister, in youth crime, the rate of serious juvenile offenders have increased since the State Government introduced its plan a year ago. Do you think that's evidence that it's not working?

MELLISH: All states are facing issues with regards to crime across their communities and it's just really disappointing to see some of these instances. My heart really goes out and my sympathy goes out to the family affected by the recent event out of Redbank Plains and the community that's dealt with that. Going forward, we'll be talking to police about what more we can do and we'll be talking to police to ensure that operationally the right things are happening to make sure they're managing these issues as they arise.

JOURNALIST: Just on Airtrain, where are negotiations at with Airtrain?

MELLISH: So, Airtrain, so this is a contract presented by previous government, which basically means the fares are much more than what you would pay across the rest of your rail network, as everyone knows. I really want to work with our partners towards a solution on this. This is a contract negotiation, so there is another party that needs to come to the table. I've met with the airport, I've met with Brisbane City Council and I'll be meeting with the Airtrain Operator soon in this regard, as we work towards an outcome, if we can achieve a positive outcome, for me, that looks like people being able to get out to the airport easier, more efficiently, potentially costing them less money, and also that workers can get out to the airport quicker and easier, I suppose.

JOURNALIST: Do you mind if I ask the Senator about this? Senator, will the Federal Government be assisting in trying to secure a deal for taxpayers that's value for money but also get them to the airport?

CHISHOLM: We think it's an important issue. I know Minister King is aware about this and I'm sure that she'll work constructively with the State Government. Obviously, they've got the work to do initially when it comes to the contract, but it isn't satisfactory the way that people get to the airport at the moment. And obviously, I think in particular for the workers, it's really important that they have more options that are cheaper and more affordable for them to get about their work.

JOURNALIST: Having covered this story for a couple of weeks, it's become apparent that it seems as though the deal will need to be a significant hit to taxpayers in order to reach a conclusion to this lengthy contract, since it is all about business. Will the Federal Government commit to assisting the State Government if they broker a deal?

CHISHOLM: That'd be a matter for Minister King to consider. But we certainly believe that it is important that this is resolved and that there are more options available for the public to get to the airport. Thank you.