Doorstop: Landsborough, Sunshine Coast
Andrew Wallace: Thanks very much for coming this morning. I'd like to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister to the sensational Sunshine Coast along with Minister Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities. And also of course my friend, the Member for Fairfax, Ted O'Brien. Today is a sensational day for the Sunshine Coast.
I've lived here for 25 years, and for too long, we've heard all sorts of stories about all sorts of governments not providing adequate infrastructure for the Sunshine Coast. This is, what the announcement to be made today is, a further step in debunking that myth.
When we met on the Nambour Railway Station just a month ago with all four of us, I said that the planning study for fast rail was the first small step in delivering fantastic transport infrastructure for the Sunshine Coast.
If I can coin a phrase of Neil Armstrong's: this is a giant leap towards that sort of upgrade for our transport infrastructure. And I am very, very proud to be part of a Turnbull Government that is delivering these sorts of outcomes for the Sunshine Coast. Deputy Prime Minister?
Michael McCormack: Well thank you, Andrew, and great to be here on the sensational Sunshine Coast, and the Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade is happening. $390 million provided by the Commonwealth to make sure that this project happens. We're very much looking forward to this. This is going to get commuters home sooner and safer. This is a fantastic project, a fantastic investment—not just for Queensland but indeed for the nation. Many, many people come here for their holidays.
Many, many people love to visit the Sunshine Coast. This is great for Ted, great for Andrew; great indeed for all the LNP members. Indeed, better than that, it's great for Queensland commuters.
This is a great project because it's going to create 600 jobs in construction, a fantastic investment by the Commonwealth Government to Queensland, to Queensland commuters. As I say, getting them home sooner and safer. That's what it's all about, and I'm very much proud to be here with my really, really close Queensland LNP colleagues Ted and Andrew, and fantastic to be here as well with Paul Fletcher. We've had a number of announcements already prior to the Budget.
It's going to be an infrastructure budget. This is what the Turnbull Government does. It provides the sorts of infrastructure that Australians need, want, expect and demand, getting them home, getting them to work, sooner and safer. That's what it's all about. Infrastructure that's going to make our country even greater. Paul?
Paul Fletcher: Well thank you very much Michael. It's great to be here with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, of course, with Andrew Wallace and Ted O'Brien—two hardworking and very effective members of Parliament here on the Sunshine Coast—and you couldn't see better evidence of how effective these two MPs are in being able to secure this very significant funding commitment of $390 million for this vital rail upgrade—Beerburrum to Nambour.
Now, this $390 million funding commitment is being made by the Turnbull Government following an assessment of the business case by Infrastructure Australia, and we've made this funding commitment really very rapidly after that assessment of the business case and after Infrastructure Australia putting this project onto its priority list. And of course, what the business case envisages is a duplication for 20 kilometres, Beerburrum to Landsborough, and then from Landsborough to Nambour, 19 kilometres, also upgraded with passing loops and other upgrades.
And so this is very important, because this rail line of course is used for both freight and passenger- it's used for both freight and passenger. As we can hear, it's an active, busy working rail line working right now. And of course, the freight task is increasing and the passenger task is increasing; it's important that both of those important needs are met and that, of course, is why this upgrade is required. Increasingly, the Sunshine Coast forms part of an integrated economic region with Brisbane.
We need only look at the commuter car park here to see a number of people either commuting to Brisbane or to points south. And so this is a very, very important upgrade, and that's why the Turnbull Government is committing $390 million towards this upgrade. And I'll make one further point before handing over to Ted O'Brien. What we've separately indicated and indeed, as Andrew mentioned, we were in Nambour just a few weeks ago announcing a commitment to a business case to look at faster rail between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.
It's important to be clear that the project we're funding today makes good sense in its own right. It's the subject of a business case that has been assessed by Infrastructure Australia, and it makes very good sense to upgrade and to duplicate the rail line, the duplication and the passing loops and so on in this business case between Beerburrum and Nambour.
That makes very good sense in and of its own right, and that is why the Turnbull Government is announcing today this substantial funding commitment. At the same time, it potentially also offers a platform to go further and that's why we're looking at that separate question in the business case we've announced to examine the opportunities for faster rail between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.
That new business case takes as a starting point the duplication and the upgrades that are committed in the funding announcement we're making today, and we'll separately look at the question: could more be done? That business case is expected to produce its results next year. But in the meantime, a very, very significant tangible benefit for commuters and users of the rail line here with this $390 million commitment from the Turnbull Government. Ted.
Ted O'Brien: Well, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister and friend and colleague Andrew Wallace, Member for Fisher. Sunshine Coast: our day has come. Bruce Highway, 1.6 billion dollars and growing—done, ticked, delivered, $181 million for the International Airport—done, ticked, delivered, and here today rail—$390 million done, ticked, delivered. We are doing everything we can to ensure Sunshine Coast gets its due.
And I want to give credit to the broader community. At the end of the day, the people of the Sunshine Coast have made their view very clear—loud and clear—by getting on board, getting on board a campaign for better rail infrastructure.
And today, of course, we are delighted to see a commitment of $390 million for Beerburrum to Nambour upgrades. This is a big win, as we know, and as the minister laid out, these works will solve the problem for freight but will also have spill over benefits for passenger services, and it will also ease congestion on the Bruce Highway. Forty kilometre stretch of rail where $390 million will be injected with remainder coming from the State Government.
This asset, of course, is owned by the Queensland State Government, it is operated by the Queensland State Government, the business case was submitted by the Queensland State Government, so I'm supremely confident that they should be getting on board also, and let's get this job done.
Because as the Minister laid out, this is about duplication, solving the freight, spillovers for passenger, but the ultimate prize still remains fast rail. There's a long way to go on that, this is a fantastic project in its own right but it is also a prerequisite for us to get fast rail between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, Maroochydore and Brisbane, Nambour and Brisbane. And again thank you very much Deputy Prime Minister and Minister.
Michael McCormack: Well done.
Question: Can I just ask, obviously- how can you be confident the State Government's going to fund it, given that they want to build Cross River Rail first, that they've said time and time again?
Paul Fletcher: Look, the Queensland Government's been very clear that Cross River Rail is fully funded. They've announced that on a number of occasions, they've indicated that Cross River Rail is going ahead. What we are doing, of course now, is providing $390 million towards another vitally needed rail project, the evidence that the Queensland Government considers that this rail project is vitally needed is seen in the fact that they prepared and submitted a business case to Infrastructure Australia, and that's the business case which has been the basis for the decision by the Turnbull Government being announced today to commit $390 million.
So, the Queensland Government has said that this is something that is required, the Turnbull Government certainly believes it's something that's required. Ted O'Brien and Andrew Wallace have very strongly made the point that their communities consider that this is something that's required. The Turnbull Government's putting $390 million on the table so it can be delivered.
Question: Minister, in that business case, it's my understanding that the State Government's only prepared to pay 20 per cent, is that correct do you know?
Paul Fletcher: We've put $390 million on the table, which is a 50 per cent contribution, and we look forward to constructive discussions with the Queensland Government. Look, we've been in this position before with the Queensland Government. I'm confident we're going to get an outcome because this is required.
Question: Ted, if we could ask you, the State Transport Minister has acknowledged that it's a project of national significance but requires that federal funding, do you think now is the time for this to happen, that they'd be mad not to jump on board?
Ted O'Brien: In order for big projects like this to come to fruition, we need a unity ticket. The Queensland State Government have swung in behind us supporting fast rail, now we need their support on this duplication. Again, this is a $390 million gift from the Federal Government to the Queensland State Government. It will be up to the Queensland State Government to explain themselves to the people of Queensland if they say no to this.
This asset is owned by the State Government, this asset is operated by the State Government, the business case was submitted by the State Government. Here we are today, $390 million, it's a day to celebrate, and I'm sure the State Government will see the logic in coming on board for the project that they've submitted. And let's get this done, let's get this done, let's continue to work together. It's only with united force that we can get these big jobs done, and now is the time to get that united force, all three tiers.
Question: Deputy Prime Minister, when are these funds rolling through, are they going to be in this coming budget, next week is it?
Michael McCormack: Yes. Well, the budget is on 8 May. As I said before, Jacqueline, it's going to be an infrastructure budget but it's an infrastructure budget whilst living within our means. We believe as a Federal Government that we've got an obligation, when we ask Australian families to live within their means, we too as the Commonwealth Government also needs to live within our means. That said, infrastructure is important. That said, making sure people get home sooner and safer is absolutely critical. That's why these projects are important, not only do they create jobs in the construction phase, they also build investment for the future, they also create opportunities for people to move out of congested cities, and to move to beautiful places such as the Sunshine Coast.
So, just recently I was on the Bruce Highway with Llew O'Brien, the Member for Wide Bay, announcing that the money that we're going to spend—$800 million there—on that section D of the Bruce Highway. We are a Government committed to Queensland, and the LNP members are making sure- there's a clamour of excitement amongst Ted and Andrew, and other Queensland LNP members to make sure that we build—as a Commonwealth—the infrastructure that is so desperately needed.
That's what we're doing. It's going to be a good infrastructure budget, we've got a Prime Minister and a Treasurer absolutely committed to build the infrastructure that states like Queensland need. But more than that, we're building it right around the nation to get people home sooner and safer, to build the infrastructure that is going to lead to better supply chains for our food and produce and mining wealth to get to those markets that we've been able to broker in South Korea, in China, and Japan, make sure we take advantage of those trade agreements, that's what it's all about.
Question: So, these funds could be rolling from next week, is that right? They're not in the forward estimates, [indistinct] current budget?
Michael McCormack: Absolutely. We want the Queensland Government to now get on board and also to commit to this project. We've offered, as Ted O'Brien just clearly enunciated, we've offered $390 million to build this important piece of infrastructure. We've offered that. The Queensland Government's going to own it; they're going to run it; they've put the business case forward to make sure that it stacks up.
We agree—that's why we've given this $390 million grant. Now it's up to the Queensland Government to stump up as well. I had a good discussion with Mark Bailey last night about this and other projects and how we could work together to make sure that Queensland commuters get the sort of infrastructure that they need.
Question: Can I ask about another matter? The Commonwealth Bank's admitted it lost the details of the accounts—20 million accounts in 2006. What do you make of that?
Michael McCormack: Well look, we're seeing some horror stories coming out of the Royal Commission, and that's why we've got a good commissioner, Commissioner Hayne; that's why, as a Government, we're looking forward to seeing what comes of this, as far as the recommendations are concerned; and that's why we, as the Turnbull Government, extended the terms of reference for this royal commission to make sure that everything was encapsulated, to make sure that the practices that were going on that are now being exposed don't happen in the future.
Question: Is it good enough that the bank can have an error or a problem like that and not make it public?
Michael McCormack: Well no, it's not good enough, and that's why they're giving evidence the Royal Commission; that's why so much is being exposed—the fact that there were dodgy practices in the past—and I've got every confidence in the Royal Commission to expose what has gone on and to make the recommendations to ensure that we don't have it happen in the future.
But having said that, and not wanting to look back too much on history, the fact is we put a number of other stronger regulations in place to make sure that financial institutions were doing the right thing, and the Royal Commission, of course, is exposing some dodgy practices. I look forward to the recommendations, as does obviously the Government, and we'll act upon that when they come in.
Question: We've heard promises before of rail duplication here on the Sunshine Coast. I believe the Liberal State Government, the Newman Government, had plans to do it. It's not an entirely new idea. What guarantee do you have, given the State Government hasn't stumped up the cash yet, that this will actually go ahead, that Sunshine Coasters will actually get this?
Michael McCormack: Well, there's 390 million good reasons why Mark Bailey and the Annastacia Palaszczuk Government should now come to a press conference like this and say we support what the Commonwealth Government is doing—not for our sakes, not for the Commonwealth's sakes, but indeed, for Queensland commuters' sakes.
This is important, not just for the Sunshine Coast, but this is important also for congestion elsewhere. This is going to get people home sooner and safer. I can't emphasise that enough. This is going to be good for tourism, good for investment, good for job creation. The Queensland Government: they need to get on board.
Andrew Wallace: I just want to follow up on something there. The difference between what is on offer today and what has been on offer in previous years is that the Federal Government is now on board this deal and is offering, effectively, the Queensland State Government a 50 per cent discount on the costs of doing this project. That is the huge difference here, and look, I just want to say that these sorts of funding announcements, these sorts of funding announcements which is being made today don't just happen overnight, and they don't happen easily.
A lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into these announcements, in the planning and the hours and hours and hours of meetings with Ministers from the whole of the Queensland team. This is a Team Queensland project which has been worked on for such a long time, and I want to acknowledge the work that's been done by Ted and Llew O'Brien and Peter Dutton and Luke Howarth and the whole of the Team Queensland. Because if we weren't working as a team, we would not be delivering this today.
Ted O'Brien: And can I just add to that? Also our LNP colleagues here on the Sunshine Coast. Again, this has got to be a united force to get these jobs done. To get us to this milestone today has been a united effort, but we need more unity with the State Government to get this one done and delivered. So it really is a shared win.
Question: Deputy Prime Minister, regarding welfare, can you live on $40 a day?
Michael McCormack: Well, the Newstart Allowance is there to help people transition into work. It's a temporary thing. The fact is the best form of welfare is a job. That's why the Turnbull Government is so committed to helping small and medium, even, indeed, big business, create more jobs.
That's why we've placed the economic parameters in place, put them in place, which last year created 420,000 jobs in the economy—1100 jobs a day. That's what we're committed to, that's what this sort of announcement today is going to do, and that's create more jobs: 600 jobs, indeed, in the building phase, in the construction phase. So that's what we're committed to, that's what we're ensuring.
Bill Shorten can say and do what he likes, of course. He's out there campaigning to get into The Lodge. Heaven help Australia if he, in fact, achieves that. The fact is Labor stands for less jobs, they stand for higher taxes for companies, they stand for less economic growth. The Turnbull Government, by contrast, stands for more jobs, less taxes for small and medium enterprises, and indeed, better and bigger and stronger economic growth.
Question: Do you not agree that- Chris Richardson, the economist who is not known for being a champion of this kind of thing, has said that it's cruel; that $40 a day is not enough, and that should be the priority over other economic policies. Do you not think that there's something in that?
Michael McCormack: Well look, as a Government, we're always trying to help those who need the most help, and that's why, I say again, we're making sure that we're creating the economic conditions to enable more people into work. Whether they're young people seeking their first job; whether they're older Australians transitioning from one career which they may have held all their lives into other employment, we're there to create more jobs to help those people who want to work to get a job.
That's why—I can't emphasise- again—1100 jobs were created a day, each and every day, under our Government's economic strategy, our Government's economic plans, last year, by business. We are there to support business. We're also there, of course, to support all Australians, and that's what we're doing. In fact, we're pushing down the cost of living in every policy that we're introducing. We're putting downward pressure on the cost of living. That's what we do as LNP members.
I can't emphasise, again, Bill Shorten and his Labor, union-led, Greens-conspiring Opposition, what they're doing is they want to push power prices up. They want to make sure that people have less opportunity to get a job. They want to make sure that business pays more tax. That's not going to help the economy and that's certainly not going to help those people who need the help the most.