Transcript - media conference - Beams Road level Crossing, north Brisbane

BART MELLISH [QLD STATE MINISTER]: G’day and thanks for coming out this morning to announce the next stage of the Beams Road overpass. Behind me here is the Beams Road level crossing and this project will get rid of that. This project will deliver a road overpass over the rail line here, which will deliver a safer outcome for motorists, a safer outcome for people on the rail network, quicker transport times across the network and less time stuck at the boom gates for people from the south east and in my area here as well, as the member for Aspley. So, I’m the Transport Minister and the MP for Aspley. I’ve been pushing for this project since 2017. I’m really pleased we’ve got to the next stage. Behind you here you can see the car park, which we’ve reconfigured over the last year or so. We’ve got 200 extra car parks on the Fitzgibbon side of the tracks and this is the next stage getting underway. This project, we couldn’t have done it alone. It is a fantastic example of a partnership between all three levels of government. So, we have $138 million from the Miles Government. We have $56 million from the Albanese Government and $40 million from the Schrinner Council. This is a great example of all three levels of government working together to deliver transport outcomes for the people of Queensland. So, I’m really pleased we could be here today and also been joined by Bielby Hull, the contractor, who will be getting stuck in very soon, they assure me, on this project. This project is going to be fantastic for locals. It’s going to be fantastic across the network and I’m really pleased to get it underway. As you can see, many cars use this road on weekdays, on weekends, and when the boom gates come down, they get stuck in traffic for two, three, four minutes at a time. And as we increase the capacity of our rail network through great projects like Cross River Rail, getting rid of level crossings like this is so much more important into the future. So, thank you to the Federal Government, thank you to the Schrinner Council. Thanks for coming along today. Really pleased that we can get started on the next stage of this project, which is the actual construction of the overpass over the rail line and I can’t wait to see it get cracking into the future. I might hand over to Senator Chisholm from the Federal Government.

ANTHONY CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: Thanks, mate. It’s great to be here with Minister Mellish, Councillor Wines, and also the local member, Stirling Hinchliffe. This is really an important project. As someone who lives on the north side and has an office further out on the north side, I travel this road regularly. And I do know how busy it gets, particularly during peak hour. You’ve got more people living in this area. You’ve got educational facilities that have started in this area as well, so it is a really important thoroughfare for so many people on the north side. We’re really pleased as part of the Federal Government that we can contribute to this project. As Minister Mellish said, this is the ideal formula when you have all three levels of government working together to deliver a project that’s going to make a significant difference for local families, but also improve economic productivity at the same time by ensuring people aren’t stuck in traffic. So, we are really pleased to be part of that. I look forward to construction starting and the jobs that it will provide as well. Thank you.

ANDREW WINES [BRISBANE CITY COUNCILLOR]: Andrew Wines, Chair of the Brisbane Infrastructure Committee. Can I just begin by thanking both the State and Federal Government for their commitment to this project? It is a key and necessary project to keep Brisbane moving. Council is more than happy to contribute more than $40 million to this project. It is a key complementary works that, had it not happened, would have made our $90 million project through the Beams Road corridor redundant. So, I’m very happy to see this project occur. Something like 20,000 vehicles a day use Beams Road. The expansion from two lanes to four lanes will mean it is much safer, much more efficient and a much better road into the future to make sure that people get home sooner and safer on a safe and convenient network.

STIRLING HINCHLIFFE [QLD STATE MP]: It’s great to be here as the local Member for Sandgate, on the other side of the railway line, and join my good friend and neighbour Bart Mellish as the Member for Aspley and also in his role as Minister for Transport and Main Roads. Great to be here with Anthony Chisholm and Andrew Wines, showing that this is an excellent project, taking advantage of the way in which government can work together across three levels of government. As a north-sider, this is an outstanding congestion buster. Beams Road has been a choke point for so many years and extra pressure in terms of added urban development, great new facilities, like the Holy Spirit College here on Beams Road in Fitzgibbon, have all added extra pressure on this part of our road network. And the overpass is a huge step in making sure that the whole of our network works better and busts that congestion that is of such great challenge. This is an important next step, the real crunch point in terms of delivery of the overpass. But it’s been possible by the works that have happened, as Bart said, in relation to the park‑and‑ride facilities here at Carseldine Station both here on the Carseldine side and also on the Fitzgibbon side, which have meant that this is a multiplatform, a multimodal project, one that is supporting better access to the rail network as well and understanding that it’s really being also driven by the opportunity that Cross River Rail will deliver two extra services on this rail line and mean that the level crossing will be impairing the road network for more time during the day. That’s what makes this overpass project absolutely essential and it’s good to see all three levels of government working in together, pitching in to deliver it here for the north side.

MELLISH: Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Just quickly, when will work be finished by?

MELLISH: 2026 is the target, I’m advised, weather depending, but we’re really keen to get cracking and get this done as soon as we can. You’ll see the council works going on as well. We want to work in with Council to make sure we’re not disrupting people as much as – as little as possible, I suppose. But, yeah, really keen to get stuck into 2026.

JOURNALIST: And just on a slightly different topic, there’s some new housing stuff coming out today about more people on the waitlist for social housing. The minister is on leave at the moment, but from a government perspective, is that a concern to Ministers at the moment?

MELLISH: Sure, I’ve spoken to the Minister. I’m advised this data, this information, came out in November, and the Minister has announced many initiatives since then, particularly related to families. We’ve got a large investment – I think it’s $5 billion this budget – into social housing and affordable housing so we’re taking a lot of steps. This is an issue that’s affecting all governments across Australia and we’re taking action.

JOURNALIST: There’s another rail crossing down at Acacia Ridge, which is also in the sort of planning phase, which is short a couple of millions of dollars. Given that the three levels of government have done a pretty good job eventually in getting this project up and running, is the Acacia Ridge project at Boundary Road down there a possibility, do you think?

MELLISH: I’ve had some really positive discussions with the Federal Government so far. I’m really keen for us going forward to have a bit more of a strategic view of level crossings, which ones are priorities, which ones are next in line to get rid of. The sort of three-way funding agreement we’ve seen here I think is a great template going forward and I really want to work with all levels of government, constructively, so that we can get more of these level crossings removed across the network. As many people would know, as Cross River Rail starts up, as more trains are on our network, that will need more time down at boom gates where there are level crossings, so we really want to get rid of them in a systematic way.

JOURNALIST: I accept that this is a big project. Is there any idea of when that Acacia Ridge project might get up and running? It’s only about $40 million or $50 million short last time I checked.

MELLISH: I’m sure we will be continuing discussions with the Federal Government and all levels of government about projects like that. There will be budget decisions made in the coming months about these projects. Thanks, everyone.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask a couple more questions, there’s a big tunnel project – sorry. Big tunnel project which everybody learnt about in October last year between Gympie – sorry, down that neck of the woods, up to Carseldine. Has there been any preliminary reporting done about that? Do you know very much about that? What can you tell us about that tunnel or is it shrouded in secrecy?

MELLISH: Sure, so the Gympie Road Bypass project, so this project for me as the local member for Aspley and also as the Transport Minister, I’m really excited by. There was some consultation done late last year. I’m advised there will be some things coming out of that consultation and a bit more discussions with the public going forward. I’m really keen on that project. Council is really keen on that project. The Federal Government probably is too. I see it as a really great way of busting congestion on the north side. There’s a missing link in the motorway network, I suppose, so I’m really keen to talk to that project team going forward and talk to locals and see what their views are on that project.

JOURNALIST: And I don’t mean to be pushy, but is there any other changes – is there any more details on the route, referring the route, and any changes to what the line map that released October last year or any refining of that issue?

MELLISH: So, that project is run through QIC and through the Treasurer’s responsibilities, but I’m advised that there will be, as they get further forward on that project, there will be more closer details of locations and where and when how this road would function I suppose.

JOURNALIST: I hate to be a bastard, but is Brisbane City Council in the planning of this particular project?

MELLISH: Look, we really want to work cooperatively with Council on this. But we’re keen to work with them on public transport solutions going forward and how this would connect with the existing road network, so we really want to work with them constructively.

JOURNALIST: Senator Chisholm, I just wanted to ask, do you think we need an ACCC inquiry to expose the difference in what supermarkets are paying suppliers versus what they’re charging consumers?

CHISHOLM: Obviously, the cost of living is a significant challenge for so many Australians and it is the government’s number one priority. We announced the review led by Craig Emerson during the week. We think that’s an important step that the Federal Government can take. We are concerned about the impact on families, but also when you talk to growers, that they’re not receiving the price that they should be receiving for their product, particularly when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables and meat. So, we want to see Craig Emerson’s work get underway, but we’re open to further efforts that the Federal Government can do to provide a spotlight on the grocery stores but ensure people are getting a fair price for their produce, but also families aren’t paying extra for groceries at the supermarket so that they can continue to keep their head above water.

JOURNALIST: Do you suspect that farmers and consumers are being ripped off?

CHISHOLM: Well, I think that there deserves to be scrutiny on the supermarkets for the way that they’re treating consumers, but also the way that they’re treating producers and I think that’s an important first step by the government. If there is further action that’s required, then I’m sure the government will consider that in due course.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you about the Inland Rail project. Dr Schott released a scathing report on it last year and that locations near Ebenezer could be used as a trial hub. Has there been an environmental impact study into that site there?

CHISHOLM: I haven’t received an update on that in recent weeks, Tony, but I’m happy to provide some further information to you in due course, but I am aware of the Schott Review. I do know that we’re trying to work constructively with the Queensland Government more broadly on the Inland Rail Project, across the state. It hasn’t been done in a way where it’s being conducive to communities learning about the Inland Rail and knowing the route. We think that there’s further work to be done in conjunction with the Queensland Government to ensure that we do get those approvals and procedures in place to ensure this important project is delivered.

JOURNALIST: Do you think it should go from Gladstone, where it can still go down toward the ports?

CHISHOLM: Well, those things are under review by both the State and Federal Government and I think that should be allowed to take place, but what we do know is that there’s been enormous cost overruns. It basically was a boondoggle by the National Party, so we’re doing what we can to ensure that we get the project back under control, but that it is delivering what was intended when it was first announced more than 15 years ago now.