Press Conference Brisbane

Alan Tudge: I’m here with the Mayor of Brisbane along with the local Councillor, James Mackay, and of course, the Federal Member here as well, Julian Simmonds. Today, we’re jointly announcing nine projects which we have agreed will be under construction within the next 12 to 24 months, with the first one beginning early next year.

Now, there's also two other projects which we’re announcing today that are still in the planning phases. They’re two level crossings and obviously, they take a little bit longer to work through before we can provide the exact timeframe for those to be constructed.

But this is nine projects where the Federal Government is contributing $115 million and they are really localised projects in the Brisbane City Council area. Congestion hotspots which just annoy people on a daily basis.

This is one of them right behind us, the Indooroopilly Roundabout. And as Julian Simmonds has been arguing for it ever since he's been a candidate for this area and since he's been a Member for this area, this is a real congestion hotspot. It needs to be fixed and we're announcing today that this is going to be fixed through the cooperation of the Federal Government and the Brisbane City Council, working together to get the job done.

There's eight other projects as well which were outlined in the press release. They include the Barbour Road and Norris Upgrade in Bracken Ridge, the Norris Road upgrade in Bracken Ridge, the Beams Road upgrade, the Commercial Road and Doggett Street upgrade in Newstead and a bunch of other projects. We're also of course, at the Federal level, supporting the State Governments in not only the large scale, city shaping pieces of infrastructure such as upgrading the M1 or the Bruce Highway, we're also working with them on another 20 odd projects as well. Urban projects, localised pinch points, in order to address the frustration which people have on a daily basis.

This has been a great partnership with the Brisbane City Council. At the Federal level, we want to work with the Brisbane City Council, with the other Councils and the State Governments. We do so very cooperatively. This has been a great partnership with the Lord Mayor and the Brisbane City Council to get the job done.

Nine projects underway within the next 12 to 24 months, busting congestion for local residents here in Brisbane and that's what the Federal Government wants to do in consultation with the Brisbane City Council. I’d just like to thank them for the cooperative way that they’ve gone about this. And we're ready to get the job done.

Over to you. Thank you.

Question: How do you feel about the move?

Adrian Schrinner: It was amazing. Well, I would never trade Melbourne, well, Brisbane for Melbourne any day. But that's alright. The Minister is from Melbourne, so I can understand the mistake

It's amazing what can be achieved when we've got two levels of government working cooperatively together, investing in critical infrastructure. What we're seeing here is a package of works between the Federal Government and the Council of half a billion dollars. $500 million towards these 11 projects.

Nine of which we can get started on within 12 to 24 months. But also some contributions towards the State Government open level crossings as well. This will make a real big difference around the suburbs of Brisbane, busting congestion but also improving safety as well. Having the Federal Government support has been being critical. These projects are of a scale of $500 million dollars. We couldn't do without the Federal Government so we appreciate their support. But now we're keen on getting on with it, working with local communities to upgrade congestion hotspots to make them safer and to get people home quicker as well.

In the case of these particular projects, the Indooroopilly Roundabout obviously is the largest one. We thank the Federal Government for their contribution. This will be a game changer in the western suburbs. But we've also got projects in other parts of Brisbane as well, other suburban areas of Brisbane, whether they’re open level crossings, whether they're suburban intersection upgrades. These things will make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people moving around the city.

Question: Lord Mayor, how do you actually fix this? What are you going to do?

Adrian Schrinner: We're looking at two options at the moment. So we've put it out to consultation. People are really keen to get involved in that. We've had hundreds of people get involved in the consultation already. One of the options is already coming out as a strong favourite but we will wait until the consultation closes before making a decision on that. But ultimately, those two options will be narrowed down to a preferred option and then we can get on with the project.

Question: What are those?

Adrian Schrinner: Yeah. Both options include signalisation of this intersection, so replacing the roundabout with traffic signals. One of those options includes an overpass, giving a smooth run through for mobile road traffic but also reducing the accidents and improving the safety here as well.

Both options will bring a major benefit to safety, but there will also be other benefits as well, freeing up capacity, creating more opportunity for people to move smoothly through this area. But there'll be benefits for pedestrians and cyclists with those options as well. So providing alternatives to private vehicle travel as well.

Question: How do you prioritise which projects actually start first?

Adrian Schrinner: Well, different sized projects have different planning phases. Consultation is a critical part of every single project we do. We're under consultation at the moment for the Indooroopilly Roundabout. There's more consultation on the other projects that will be kicking off soon. Once we've got the community’s feedback on board, we can get the best outcome and then move forward with the project.

Question: Have any of these not been announced before?

Adrian Schrinner: Well, there are projects that have been announced with Federal Government funding. What is being announced for the first time today is the level of council contribution into these projects. And so, the council's contribution has not been announced before. That was new information. The federal contribution, in most cases, was announced in the lead up to the last federal election in May. And so, we're coming to the table, adding and leveraging up the Federal Government investment to generate a half a billion-dollar fund to fight traffic congestion and make our roads safer.

Question: Sorry, I missed it. How much is the Council contributing?

Alan Tudge: I'll just add to that. All of these projects were announced by the Federal Government leading up to the last election and in some cases, they were election promises. Today we're announcing that we're getting on with the job, planning for them, setting the timetable for them to be constructed.

As I said, all of these are going to be under construction within 12 to 24 months with the first one beginning early next year. We want to get on with the job, busting congestion across Brisbane, and that's what these projects are going to do.

Question: Minister, some of them were announced in January. So by the time that happens, it would be three years. That’s a long time for people to wait.

Alan Tudge: It depends on which ones you’re referring to. Some of them, like this one, will take a little bit of time to do the consultation work. It’s a larger scale project. But most of the projects we’ve announced over the last six or eight months leading up to the election campaign, the funding has kicked in from 1 July.

So since 1 July we've now got the commitments with the Brisbane City Council to get these jobs done over the next 12 to 24 months. As I’ve said, the first one is beginning construction early next year and we want to see all of them underway as quickly as possible; we’re working cooperatively with the Brisbane City Council to do just that.

Question: When did you get that cooperation? When was that signed off on? How much are you getting?

Alan Tudge: So we’ve just agreed this over the last few weeks. We’ve had constant negotiations with Brisbane City Council over these particular projects into our contribution, their contribution and what the timeframe is going to look like. And today, we’re announcing that we’re getting on with these.

Question: So you don’t need anything from the state?

Alan Tudge: These nine ones which are jointly funded by the Federal Government and the Brisbane City Council; there’s two others which the Brisbane City Council, and you might want to comment on these, two other level crossings, which are going to be removed and that will be a tripartite arrangement on those two level crossings.

Question: Lord Mayor, if I could just get your

Adrian Schrinner: Yup. Sure.

Question: So what is the Council contributing to this project?

Adrian Schrinner: So out of this $500 million fund, it's approximately 50/50, it’s split between the Federal Government and the Council. And so when you include the open level crossing contributions from both sides, you're getting to a five hundred-million-dollar fund which is approximately 50/50. So council’s coming to the table with real money, investing in these projects, leveraging up the Federal Government investment.

So the other thing I could say about the timeframe of these projects is all of these projects until this point have had no timeframe; there has not been funding available to deliver them. So they were not projects that were going to happen unless we got this agreement in place. Now, we have a situation where they can move forward; we can get on with it. And so starting early next year, the first works will commence, and then progressively over the coming months and years we'll see these projects delivered.

Question: Is this the first project we're going to see? And yeah and when you say early next year what time are we actually talking about?

Adrian Schrinner: We're expecting the first project to be the Commercial and Northern Road Upgrade in Newstead and that is one of the early projects to kick off with, is a smaller project in nature so we can get it going faster. But we will do a consultation within the coming weeks, so that we can start construction the first half of next year.

Question: Sorry if I’m missing something but if the Federal contribution is $115 million where’s the, and you’re saying it’s 50/50?

Adrian Schrinner: So that contribution was towards the nine projects. There's also additional contributions from the Federal Government towards the open level crossings.

Question: But are they not assured? Yeah?

Adrian Schrinner: Well basically, those open level crossings require tripartite agreements so we require the State coming to the table. The Federal Government has provided funding for the State to do planning studies for those open level crossings. That work is underway. What we need to hear back from State is the priority that they want to determine for each of these crossings.

Question: So the Federal Government won’t commit until the State Government commits?

Adrian Schrinner: No. Both of the two parties have committed. So the Council and the Federal Government have got money on the table and made the commitment. It's up to the State now to determine which project happens first and also to put in their share of the funding. So traditionally, these projects have been funded in the majority by the State Government. Usually, it's 85 per cent by the State Government, 15 per cent by Council. In this case, we see a tripartite agreement with money coming from three levels of government, that I am aware is a first in recent times in Queensland. So I'm not aware of anything in recent times in the last 20 years where the Federal Government has put money into open level crossings in Brisbane. So this is a great thing and it will help bring these projects up the priority list.

Question: Minister, just on another issue if I may, would you like to see Australia and China have closer ties?

Alan Tudge: Just let me, firstly just address this point in terms of level crossings as well. So we have made financial commitments to the two level crossings, the Linden Level Crossing and the Coopers Plains. In Linden’s case, we’ve made an $85 million commitment and Coopers Plains level crossing a $73 million commitment. There's also commitments from the Brisbane City Council.

So all up, our Federal commitments to these nine projects which we've agreed the time schedule on, plus the two level crossings comes to over $250 million, which as the Lord Mayor, it’s being managed.

Now, in relation to the, sorry, what was the question?

Question: Ties with China. Would you like to see Australia have closer ties?

Alan Tudge: I mean, we have a good relationship with China and of course, we have a very strong strategic relationship with the United States, and we've been able to balance that well and will continue to do so.

Question: The Chinese state media are reporting that China says Australia faces a hundred years of solitude if it continues ties with America in terms of its military ties. Should everyday Australians be concerned about something like that quite strongly?

Alan Tudge: I'm not aware of those comments from the Chinese state media and you might put those to the Foreign Minister.

Julian Simmonds: There’s just a couple of points that I wanted to make. We're standing here at Indooroopilly in front of the most congested and unsafe roundabouts in the whole city, and just to show you how quickly projects can move when you have the kind of cooperation that we have between the Federal Government and the Brisbane City Council is that at the start of this year we didn't have anything more than an understanding of the congestion problem that we had here in Indooroopilly and some land that the council had baked.

Now, we're just a few short months down the track and we have money on the table from the Federal Government, money on the table from the Council. We have options out there for community consultation, and a commitment to see this project underway in the next 12 to 24 months. Now, that's going to be a huge benefit to residents in the western suburbs.

And the other point I wanted to make is to remember that if infrastructure is a wonderful thing but it's not an end in itself. It’s so that we can get local residents home to their families sooner and safer.  These kind of urban congestion spots, not on main highways, but they are the type of intersections that our mums and dads drive through every day on the weekend, take their kids to sport on the weekends, go and do the shopping and so to have the benefit of a new signalised intersection rather than this unsafe and congested roundabout will mean a lot to the residents of the western suburbs.

And I'd like to thank the Federal Government for putting in the funding, but also the Brisbane City Council and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner. They know how to produce congestion busting outcomes and projects, and so it's great to be partnering with them to get this project done.

Question: Sorry. Can I have a comment on, is the council planning to do anything about the number of full buses that couldn’t pick up passengers last night?

Adrian Schrinner: Absolutely. Look, that is a great question. We saw another release of information just overnight of the number of full buses we're seeing particularly on the busway network, the most heavily congested and fullest buses are on the bus way on Route 66. This route will be replaced.