Bruce Highway press conference

Andrew Wallace: Well, it's great to be here at the Caloundra Road Bruce Highway interchange with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. And this is a great success story and something that I've been pushing very hard with the Deputy Prime Minister for a long time and that is in relation to government contracting with Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies. Fulton Hogan and Seymour Whyte are two Tier 2 engineering businesses, construction companies, that have formed a joint venture which have saved the Federal Government nearly $400 million in the way that they've contracted with the Federal Government and the State Government. It's these sort of savings that enable the Federal Government to then reinvest those monies into more roadworks and we've seen that on this stretch of the Bruce Highway. $3.4 billion has been invested on the Bruce Highway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane because we want to see Sunshine Coast families and businesses get to where they need to go sooner and safer. We want to see people who are travelling between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane get home to their families and get home safely.

So it's very, very exciting to see the Deputy Prime Minister here on the Sunshine Coast. It's great to be able to share the huge success story that Fulton Hogan Seymour White are. I know they're on track for the completion of the Bruce Highway upgrades between Caloundra Road and Sunshine Motorway. God willing, we will keep the rain away from this stretch of the coast for another 12 months or so, but we're on a project to complete this work by the end of 2020. And interestingly, no sooner will these works finish in December 2020, but the next stage of the Bruce Highway will start in January 2020. So we'll see an overlap of works between the Caboolture Road and the first Steve Irwin Way exit. So that will be the next stage of works which are starting in January next year and it will ultimately have three lanes from Brisbane as a minimum all the way to the Sunshine Coast.

So on that, I just warmly welcome you, Michael. It's great to have Michael, who's not only the Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister until a couple of hours ago, but Michael is the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and he's principally been responsible for the billions of dollars which have been invested on the Sunshine Coast in our infrastructure in recent years. A very warm welcome, Michael.

Michael McCormack: Thank you, Andrew. When it comes to diverging interchanges, diamonds are a commuter's best friend. You like that one?

Andrew Wallace: I like that.

Michael McCormack: And it's true. This is an engineering masterpiece. This is Australian design work. This is an area, a region, an interchange, a project, where 93 per cent of the workers are locals and that's fantastic. And that's what you get when you get Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies being involved in the process, being involved in the building, being involved in the construction, and I know that Andrew Wallace, the Member for Fisher, has had such a huge role to play in this regard. He came to see me last year, not long after I became the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, to argue the case for smaller companies, for smaller businesses, for local companies to get a greater slice of the pie when it came to building infrastructure in this nation, particularly in his area, particularly on the Sunshine Coast. And his work and his advocacy and his lobbying along with other LNP members made me have a review into the whole process of how we write the cheque and then ask the states to tender, to contract, the work out. And now, the Prime Minister has obviously announced, just in recent weeks after the Reserve Bank Governor Dr Philip Lowe asked for projects to be brought forward, the Prime Minister said we need to give Tier 2 and 3 companies a greater slice of the action and that followed my intervention, that followed Andrew's hard work to lobby for companies such as these, for this joint venture between these great companies.

And we want to make sure that when it comes to building projects, that we do it at the greatest, possible, maximum, optimal rate for taxpayers because we are using taxpayers' dollars. Whether it is federal money or whether it is state money, it is still taxpayers' dollars. We want to get best value for buck. We are doing that right here at this Diamond Interchange. We are doing that right here at Caloundra. This is going to bust through congestion. Of course, we all want to get, as Andrew Wallace has just said, home sooner and safer. Our tradies need to get to their jobs quicker. They need to also get there safely. Whether it is business, whether it is freight efficiency, supply chain lines, no matter what it is, whether it is a big heavy haulage truck right down to a motor vehicle, even a motorbike, we want to make sure that we have got the best possible roads. We want to make sure that people are getting to where they need to get in the fastest possible way but in the safest possible way. This amazing interchange, this amazing engineering masterpiece, is going to do just that. I compliment the companies for what they are doing, for the work that they are providing, and for the fact that they are giving local prospects to local job seekers and training them up and once this job is completed, I am sure there will be many other jobs right up and down the Bruce Highway. It is a $10 billion federal Liberal-Nationals investment in the Bruce and we are going to make sure it gets finished. We are going to make sure that commuters are able to get where they need to get sooner and safer.

Journalist: Andrew mentioned that this joint venture has saved the Government millions of dollars. If this didn't happen, would you have been out of pocket?

Michael McCormack: We very much rely on state governments to tender out and to contract. We write cheques. Sometimes it is in an 80–20 situation, sometimes it is in a 50–50 situation. Rest assured, when it comes to regional roads it is generally 80–20. Labor's split was always 50–50. Thank goodness they did not get back on to the Treasury benches on May 18. But the fact is, we make sure that whenever we cost out roads, whenever we do it with state government that we are doing it for optimal value for taxpayers' dollars. We always do that. But of course we prioritise where our road construction is going to be to bust through congestion. That is what it is mainly all about, to make sure that people are getting to where they need to be, sooner and safer. I know I am harping on that but it is true. We want to make sure that our roads are the very best they can be. We have seen way too many tragedies on our roads this year. We are a government which is getting on with the job of building the highways, the national highways, the byways, the linkage roads through the Roads of Strategic Importance. And I know that Queensland is a big beneficiary of that, but it is a $100 billion infrastructure rollout over the next decade. So we are getting on with building our future. We are getting on with building a better nation. We are getting on with building a better Queensland.

Journalist: One thing that would ease that congestion would be a rail. Where is the Queensland rail at, from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast?

Michael McCormack: Well I have had good discussions with Mark Bailey. I have had very productive discussions and I am happy to work through that. I know Beerburrum to Nambour is an important line. I know the duplication of that is a priority for local commuters. I know Andrew is lobbying hard to make sure we have better rail options, that we have better road options. We are seeing here today how much productivity can be increased and how much, you know, people want to come to the Sunshine Coast for a tourist destination. But people who live in and around here, they want to be able to get down to Brisbane as quickly as they can, as safely as they can, whether it is by road, whether it is by rail. Those discussions will continue with Mark Bailey. I work with him in good faith. I know that the Federal Government is committed $390 million towards it. That money is good. We stand ready to do what we can to make sure that we get better rail options for the Sunshine Coast.

Journalist: When can these discussions come to an end? Will we see any action?

Michael McCormack: We are discussing it regularly, so you know there is a lot going on, whether it is light rail, whether it is commuter rail of course, whether it is indeed heavy haulage rail such as the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail. They are discussions that are taking place. We have got $100 billion infrastructure rollout right across the nation and as I say again, Queensland is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the infrastructure package.

Journalist: Minister, what's it going to take …

Andrew Wallace: … on that issue. I think it is important to recognise that in the last federal election, when Anthony Albanese was the Labor infrastructure minister, he was prepared to put $390 million on the table just like we have. So Labor federally were prepared to fund the duplication of the railway line between Landsborough and Beerburrum at a 50–50 level. Now, Mark Bailey and the Labor State Government want us to put 80 per cent in. Their own federal colleagues were only prepared to put 50 per cent in. So I mean, that should scream volumes to Mark Bailey, but it is time to end the silliness. Now, we will meet him halfway on the project that we do not have to put a cent towards but we will meet him halfway. We understand that at a Federal Government level that we need to further this project. Deb Frecklington, the state Opposition leader has prepared to put 50–50. Mark Bailey should do the same.

Journalist: Andrew, this has been going on for years, absolutely years and we hear same thing time after time. What is going to take to break that nexus?

Andrew Wallace: A state Coalition government.

Journalist: Andrew, just on the Diamond. Why was it necessary and the benefits on it being made this way as opposed to the normal overpass?

Andrew Wallace: Those technical questions are probably best put to the engineers. But my understanding is that it is quite counter-intuitive with the diverging diamond interchange in that it sees a lot more traffic flow throughput. There is less conflict between vehicles. This is a design that has come out of the United States and is very, very popular over there and it is perfectly suited to this environment where we need to get a high volume of vehicles from Caloundra, bearing in mind we have got Caloundra with an- it is going to be an additional 50,000 people plus coming out of there, out of Aura, heading west and heading north and heading south. So it is perfectly suited to this area. But look, I am working with the DPM and my colleagues in Canberra. We know that Caloundra Road is at capacity at the moment. I was just telling the gentleman here earlier that I was driving on Caloundra Road yesterday and for anybody to suggest that Caloundra Road is not at capacity is kidding themselves. Caloundra Road is absolutely diabolical. And I am calling on Mark Bailey to stump up with some money. It is a state road. Caloundra Road must be improved. It must be improved as soon as possible.

Unidentified speaker: Last questions, guys.

Journalist: Will this be of good benefit or is this going to be enough or do you need more?

Andrew Wallace: No look, certainly we need Caloundra Road upgraded. We need Nicklin Way upgraded. We need the Kawana Linkway upgraded.

Journalist: This will help?

Andrew Wallace: This will help for vehicles travelling further north on the Bruce Highway and travelling south on the Bruce Highway and travelling west out to the hinterland. It won't help for vehicles travelling into Caloundra which is the main bottleneck at the Kawana Linkway roundabout and the Nicklin Way roundabout. Those are intersections that the state need to address and they need to address very quickly.

Journalist: What's in it for the state government here on the Sunshine Coast to do those things?

Andrew Wallace: Well look, I think …

Unidentified speaker: [Interrupts] Given the way that we typically vote what's in it for them to do anything?

Andrew Wallace: Charles, it is a sad day that you would ask that question. Queensland should be governed for all of Queenslanders, not just for inner city Brisbane residents. And that is what we are seeing here in politics in Queensland. We are seeing a Jackie Trad-led government in Brisbane where all they want to do is pile money into safe Labor seats and forget everybody else in Queensland. I know that Deb Frecklington won't do that. She will be a premier for the entire state of Queensland and we will back her every step of the way.

Unidentified speaker: Thanks all.