Transcript - Brisbane Doorstop

Alan Tudge: Well, g’day, it’s great to be here in Brisbane with the Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner. We’ve just had a terrific meeting discussing the 12 projects which we jointly have agreed to fund and construct in the years ahead.

Now, from the Federal Government’s perspective those 12 projects equate to over $270 million worth of commitments, and on top that, of course, we have our $300 million commitments to the Brisbane Metro.

We’ve been working through each of those 12 projects one by one, working out what the issues are, what the timelines can be, and we can certainly confirm that every single one of those projects will be getting underway within the years ahead, and we’ll be able to provide some precise details in the upcoming weeks.

Every single one of these 12 projects is designed to bust congestion here in Brisbane. We jointly share this aspiration. And on top of the 12 projects that of course we’re jointly funding, the Lord Mayor through the Brisbane City Council is funding all sorts of other projects as well.

I know the Lord Mayor will be keen to talk about the Coopers Plains level crossing; it’s one of the 12 projects, and we have $74 million- $73 million already committed from the federal perspective, and we certainly welcome the $40 million contribution, which the Brisbane City Council has announced today.

And again, that will just be another great project which can be completed in the years ahead, and just make it safer and easier for people to get across that railway line and be able to get home sooner and safer.

While I’m here, can I also just make some comments in relation to the infrastructure audit- Infrastructure Australia audit which has been released today. Now, Infrastructure Australia is a terrific independent body, and we always listen to the issues which they raise, and they inform our decision making. The issues which they raise in their report today particularly concern congestion in our major cities.

Now this is something that I have been talking about, the Prime Minister has been talking about, almost nonstop for the past 12 months. So we hear them very clearly in terms of the challenges in places like Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne in particular.

I would say though that the Infrastructure Australia audit was based on data from 12 months ago, so it doesn't incorporate the $23 billion worth of new projects that we have announced since that time.

And it also doesn't incorporate the fact that we've introduced the new population policy, which has seen a reduction in the migration rates and seen new incentives for the people to be able to- new incentives for migrants to consider going to regional areas and smaller cities, as a way of taking pressure off our big capital cities of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. Overall though, it's a good report and we'll certainly be examining it very closely in the weeks ahead.

Part of our congestion plan, of course, is $100 billion of infrastructure which we're rolling out right across this country, including here in Brisbane, but in our other capital cities and regions across Australia as well. I’ll hand it over to the Lord Mayor to make some comments as well, then we can handle any questions.

Adrian Schrinner: It is fantastic to have a federal government that is committed to building infrastructure. What we're seeing right now is the largest commitment by any federal government into Brisbane infrastructure. We've got more than $500 million of investment by this federal government into Brisbane, including Brisbane Metro, and including a dozen projects that were referred to before.

That is the largest investment that any federal government has ever made into Brisbane, and that will benefit Brisbane residents massively. Congestion is a critical issue across our city, and it is great to have this cooperative working relationship with the Federal Government, where they’re not only working with us, but putting real dollars on the table to build projects across the city.

Now we see Brisbane Metro rolling out with federal support, and we will see these dozen or more projects rolling out in the coming years that will benefit Brisbane residents right across the city and suburbs; projects like Indooroopilly roundabout that they've committed to, projects like Rochdale Priestdale road intersection. Right across the city there are projects that we are working on together to make sure residents can get home sooner and safer.

Alan Tudge: Any questions?

Question: What was that a criticism then, you know, election- government’s only think in election cycles rather than long term plan?

Alan Tudge:: Well, to the contrary, we’ve actually outlined a ten-year pipeline of projects, constituting $100 billion. And that works in conjunction with our population plan as well, which is taking real measures to reduce some of the population pressures on our big capital cities, whilst supporting the growth of some of the smaller cities in some of the regional areas which are desperate for more people.

Question: Are they the ones you announced during the election campaign?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, that’s right.

Question: So Fairfax and the ABC pointed out that most of those are in LNP-held seats. How do you broaden that out so it becomes more across the city?

Alan Tudge: Well, I mean, when you look right across the country, so much of our dollars is actually going towards city-shaping projects. I mean, even one of the biggest projects here which we’re announcing today out of the 12 – the Coopers Plains – is in a Labor seat and we’re putting $73 million towards that, and the Lord Mayor is contributing a further $40 million. The one that we’re waiting for, actually, is for the state government to contribute to that project and then we’ll be able to get on with it and get it done.

Question: Have you been briefed on the delays to the Metro project?

Alan Tudge: We had a discussion in relation to that, and obviously we want to see the Brisbane Metro underway as quickly as possible. We’ve had a discussion today in relation to that project, and I’ll also be raising this with Minister Bailey this afternoon.

Question: The city deal would seem to cover a lot of this with getting everybody on board over a long period of time. What’s the latest on that and how critical is it for it to get ticked off soon?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, that’s right. So, we made a commitment to undertaking a South East Queensland city deal between myself and the previous lord mayor actually, and the state governments, and the three leaders will be getting together again next week to discuss our progress there. This will probably take 12 months or so to work through, to do the proper consultation and to map out what will be a ten to 20-year plan for South East Queensland; but which of course transport infrastructure will be a key component of it.

But we’ll also be talking about liveability; we’ll be talking about employment hubs; we’ll be talking about property planning and the like. So, we’re taking our time in relation to doing this because we want to get it right. But ultimately it will be a great, long term plan for South East Queensland where the three levels of government will be joined together and committing to it.

Question: And would that be one of the key ways to sort of get on top of the infrastructure problems raised in this audit?

Alan Tudge: Yeah, a little bit of both. I mean, we’re constantly looking at funding good infrastructure here in Brisbane, whether or not that be city-shaping infrastructure such as the M1 or the Bruce Highway or whether it be some of the smaller scale projects that we’ve been talking about today with the Lord Mayor. But the city deal, no doubt, we’ll also talk about some of the long term infrastructure projects which are needed for Southeast Queensland.

Question: Can I ask about- in regards to the report for Victoria, does this report confirm the Victorian Government needs to build the East West Link?

Alan Tudge: Well, this report again emphasises the desperate need for the East West Link in Melbourne.

Now, this is on top of previous Infrastructure Australia reports, the Victorian Infrastructure Report, it’s on top of the Labor Party who used to believe in the East West Link.

And I certainly know that the tens of thousands of residents in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne are desperately wanting this road to be completed. Because at the moment it is the only major freeway in Melbourne which comes to a full stop, when the East West Link will take it from one side of the city across to the other.

Now, we understand and we respect that Daniel Andrews doesn’t want to contribute financially to this project. Therefore, we have said to him: we will fund the entire government contribution of this project. All we need from Daniel Andrews is for him to give us the Greenlight in order to get this job done.

Question: And how much will it cost Victorians to build?

Alan Tudge: So, we estimate the project will be about $7 billion, of which we’ve got $4 billion on the table ready to go towards it and we believe that we’ll be able to secure $3 billion worth of private contributions. That is, the Victorian Government won’t need to put in a cent in order to get the job done, but they do need to give the green light, and that’s what we’re simply seeking from them.

I would point out though, that yes, we have a dispute with the Victorian Government in relation to the East West Link project, and we’ll constantly be prosecuting the case until this project is built. But by and large, we’re actually working very cooperatively together and we have much more in common than we do have differences. And we’ve got a lot of projects which we’ve jointly agreed to undertake, and this of course includes the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, the Geelong Fast Rail, the Monash upgrades, the M80 upgrades, and so many more other projects across Melbourne and indeed across Victoria. We want to work cooperatively with the state government and all state governments; just as we work so well together with the Brisbane City Council.

Question: What do you say to commuters in Sydney that that city is now- it will be the most congested, probably, for always?

Alan Tudge: The good thing for Sydney residents is so many of the larger-scale projects are coming to a conclusion now or in the next 12 or 24 months. You think of the M4 as part of WestConnex, which has just opened a few weeks ago, and that will make a massive difference for those people who are coming in from the western suburbs into the CBD. Obviously, the new part of the Metro has been opened. NorthConnex is going to be opened next year as well, which would make a huge difference for those people in the northern parts- the northern suburbs of Sydney coming into the city as well.

There is so much construction work going on in Sydney at the moment. In some respects, I think they’re five or ten years ahead of Melbourne now in terms of their construction works and Melbourne’s playing catch up, when it used to be the reverse. And I think we’ll start to see the traffic and the trains work- I think we’ll start to see the traffic flow so much more smoothly in the months and years ahead because of all these large scale projects coming to a conclusion soon.

Question: There’s all this talk about record spending, but Infrastructure Australia says it might not be enough.

Alan Tudge: Well, Infrastructure Australia is saying that we probably need to maintain these record levels of expenditure into the years ahead. I mean, their modelling was in essence quite pessimistic modelling because it assumed that no more money would ever be going to any more projects in the decade ahead. Now- and it also didn’t take into account the fact that we added a further $25 billion worth of funding at last year’s Budget.

So, we lifted our pipeline of work from $75 billion to $100 billion at last year’s Budget, and no doubt in the budgets in the years ahead we’ll continue to invest money, just as the Brisbane City Council will and just as other state governments will.

Question: Yeah, can I just ask value or net worth of the project - local, state, federal project - has there been any analysis of whether they?

Alan Tudge: Yeah. We took the City Deal concept actually from the United Kingdom, so they've been using that methodology for some time. The single biggest City Deal that we've got, which is perhaps the best analogy for South East Queensland, is the Western Sydney City Deal. And that it’s universally recognised as a terrific model combining eight local councils, state government, and the federal government towards a 20 year plan which will cater for 500,000 more people in Western Sydney, 200,000 houses to be built, 200,000 jobs to be created, and with road and rail infrastructure across Western Sydney as well.

All of that, of course, is being stimulated by the huge investment which we have in the Western Sydney Airport, $5.3 billion.

So that's perhaps the best model which we have which shows- which I think is universally recognised as working and I think it's probably the model which we’ll look towards as we’re developing the South East Queensland City Deal to show what is actually possible.

We're ambitious with this City Deal. I think the Lord Mayor is ambitious for the three levels of government to outline this long term plan so then that we can be- have something that all levels of government can work towards over the long term which goes beyond the electoral cycles.

Question: We're talking a lot about roads, cars on our roads. Should we not be trying to do something to get people out of cars and perhaps onto public transport? I mean, when are we getting a fast rail to connect Sunshine Coast to Brisbane?

Alan Tudge: As you probably know, before the election we announced our Fast Rail plan. And that outlined our ambition for many of the satellite cities or satellite regions of the big capital cities to be connected to fast rail in the next decade or two. We've put together a fast rail agency to help navigate this and we're also funding the business cases for the Sunshine Coast, for the Gold Coast, and also out to Toowoomba as well.

Now, the first one, the first cab off the rank is the Geelong fast rail in Melbourne, and then we'll be considering the other business cases as they come through to us in the months and years ahead. But I think it can be a very powerful mechanism to not only connect some of the regional cities with the major capitals, but can also be a powerful mechanism to decentralise some of your population as well, because if people can live in a Geelong or in a Bendigo or a Ballarat or up on the Sunshine Coast and have some of the more affordable housing there, be able to commute within, say, 30 minutes into the CBD, that way they can enjoy the lifestyle and more affordable housing while still being able to access the major jobs markets of the CBDs.

Question: Do you foresee any money for the Cross River Rail from the federal government?

Alan Tudge: Well, the State Government has said that that's fully funded, so we're not going to be putting money towards something which the State Government has said is fully funded. We're putting our money towards other projects which are our priorities.