ABC Radio Brisbane Interview with Rebecca Levingston and Craig Zonca

Rebecca Levingston: Did you know we have a federal minister in charge of cities? And today he is in your city. Alan Tudge is touring Brisbane, he's the Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population.

Minister, good morning. Who are you hoping to run in to today?

Alan Tudge: So, I'm spending a couple of days here largely in the south of Brisbane, down at Brisbane's Bayside, Logan and down towards the Gold Coast, and with a couple of the local members, Bert van Manen and Ross Vasta, looking at congestion hotspots down there. And they're lobbying for particular upgrades on roads and issues down there which are causing angst for people.

Craig Zonca: Does that mean you've brought your chequebook with you, Minister?

Alan Tudge: Well, we're already spending over $5 billion in Queensland at the moment to build major infrastructure including upgrades to the M1, as you probably know.

But we've also got a billion dollar urban congestion fund which we want to be allocating and largely to those very small hotspots which can be the local intersection which keeps people stuck for 10 minutes, we want to be able to fix those things because often they're a real bugbear and cause real traffic delays.

Rebecca Levingston: You could have just spoken to our traffic guy, Brad, he could tell you all the hotspots…

Alan Tudge: [laughs] That's probably true.

Rebecca Levingston: …Although I wonder if you've had time, as you made your way to Brisbane this morning, to have a look at this Grattan Institute report that actually says over the last five-years commute times in capital cities haven't really changed much in terms of time or distance.

Alan Tudge: Yeah, I have had a quick look at that report, which has just been released this morning, and they're essentially saying that congestion isn't too much of a problem and I've got to say, I reckon they should get out and speak to some of the people in Brisbane or on the Gold Coast to say that congestion hasn't been getting worse, because all the indications are that it has been.

And even their report itself says on some occasions that the time spent in traffic is getting longer in some of our major capital cities. It is a real issue and that's why we're investing so much.

Craig Zonca: When it comes to major infrastructure projects, of course, one that's happening in Brisbane is Cross River Rail, fully funded by the state government at this stage. Your predecessor, Paul Fletcher, wasn't the biggest fan of it, are you more of a fan, Alan Tudge, of Cross River Rail?

Alan Tudge: Listen, I don't have a problem with the Cross River Rail, it [inaudible] like it's a necessary project but the state government has fully funded it, so they don't need a federal contribution.

We've got massive federal contributions towards other big infrastructure projects here in Brisbane and Queensland, $10 billion for example going towards the Bruce Highway, over a-billion-dollars going towards the M1, upgrades to the Brisbane Metro, things like that. That's where our focus is. But I'm going to be catching up also with Minister Bailey, the Transport Minister today, as well and we'll have further discussions about future projects.

Craig Zonca: So, you're saying you're a fan of Cross River Rail, if the state government came to you and said, look, we need some extra funding to ease the financial burden of making this project happen—would you be receptive to that?

Alan Tudge: Well, when a project is already fully funded then, it's fully funded, they don't need a federal contribution. And I probably should say that Queensland overall is getting over $500 million extra from the new share of GST distribution formula and [inaudible] use some of that money towards that, then of course that's up to the Queensland government to do so.

Rebecca Levingston: Well, we'll see what the state treasurer makes of that when she and all the other state and territory treasurers meet with the federal treasurer tomorrow. One final question for you Alan Tudge, as the Minister for Cities, what's your favourite city in Australia?

Alan Tudge: [Laughs] Well, that's a tough question. I was born and bred in Melbourne and so I'm naturally partial to that [inaudible] family but I have spent a bit of time up here in Queensland. I lived up in Far North Queensland for a couple of years and love this state. But outside of Melbourne [laughs], I don't think I better comment on that one.

Rebecca Levingston: At least you're honest. Appreciate your time. Enjoy your stay in Brisbane.

Alan Tudge: Thanks very much, Rebecca.

Rebecca Levingston: Alan Tudge, the Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population, visiting Brisbane today and tomorrow. So, if you run into him, maybe put your hand up for some cash, point out some congestion hotspots or something else the city needs.

Craig Zonca: Well, that's what he says he wants to hear about; congestion hotspots and to access some of that money that is available to try to relieve those pinch points, and there are plenty of them around Brisbane.