Transcript South East Queensland City Deal

Alan Tudge: Well today, we’re announcing that we intend to do a South East Queensland City Deal. Now, this is quite a big step for South East Queensland because when you announce that you are going to negotiate a City Deal, it means that we will be dedicating a lot of resources over the weeks and months ahead to sit down and undertake those discussions.

And then it typically means quite a significant financial contribution from the Commonwealth and from the states and the local councils as well, towards the ultimate objective. And the ultimate objective here of this City Deal will be to outline a 10 and 20-year plan across the three levels of government to make South East Queensland an even better place to live.

Now, why South East Queensland? In part because after Melbourne and Sydney, it’s the third largest population area and it’s also one of the fastest growing, adding about 75,000 people each and every year.

And so the intent is to get the three levels of government to work through a long term plan to cater for that population growth, to address things like congestion and to make sure that South East Queensland remains liveable.

Our priorities in this City Deal will be on three areas. On infrastructure most importantly - and that will build on an already over $7 billion worth of infrastructure commitment which we’ve made to South East Queensland, particularly the M1, the Gold Coast Rail, the Brisbane Metro as well as the Urban Congestion Fund money which we announced last week.  Second, it’ll be around employment, again, building on our strong employment record.

And third, around liveability. So they’ll be our three core priorities as we undertake these discussions with the state governments and the mayors.

The next steps will be that tomorrow I’ll be meeting up with the mayors, the council of the South East Queensland mayors, led by Graham Quirk. This afternoon they’ll be actually announcing their own priorities in terms of what they would like to see done. I’ve taken a look at that embargoed copy and it’s a good document.

We want to work closely with them and the state government on this. So from tomorrow the hard work begins. We’ve also invited Deputy Premier Trad down to join that meeting if she can as well.

At the end of the day, this is about the three levels of government working together to make South East Queensland an even better place to live.

Now I might ask Peter Dutton as the senior Queenslander to say a few words about what this might mean for South East Queensland and then we’ll come to your questions.

Peter Dutton: Thanks Tudgey. Well ladies and gentlemen, I’m very excited to be here with all my colleagues. Thank you very much to Alan Tudge for his leadership and also to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, a couple of us have been doing a lot of work for a long period of time to look at the way in which we can support this City Deal. I’ve been in Parliament now for 18 years and I’ve never seen such a collegiate group who have worked so closely together to deliver for our roads which are congested; for our rails which need significant investment; and for all the projects that need funding in our local electorates to make our areas even more liveable than they are now.

South East Queensland is an incredibly exciting place to live, but if you’re driving to work each morning, many people are getting stuck in traffic by the time they get to the end of their street or when they get to the first intersection. All of my colleagues experience this. They are in touch with their communities, they’ve been speaking with the Prime Minister, with the Treasurer, with the Finance Minister over a long period of time and we are determined to add to the investment that we’ve already been awarded in South East Queensland. With the population growth, with the exciting developments in tourism in our South East corner, we need to have that significant investment so that we can grow with the population. We need to have the infrastructure and we can only do that as an LNP team, and we’ve been able to work very closely together over a long period of time to arrive at this point today.

I want to say thank you very much to Graham Quirk for his leadership of the mayoral group. He has really gone above and beyond working with his colleagues to put together this document. There’s a lot within the document that will set up South East Queensland for decades to come and Scott Morrison wants to be central to that plan. I know the Prime Minister has been really impacted by speaking to Queenslanders during the number of visits that he’s had to our state over recent months, learning about the difficulties that people have.

As Queenslanders, regularly we’re stuck in roadworks because the investment hasn’t been made in decades past. I want to make sure that all of us, like the Prime Minister, get the investment that we need in the South East Corner. The Prime Minister, as we know, has already committed to significant investments in South East Queensland, but through this document and through the work, the advocacy of the LNP colleagues behind me, we’re going to continue to build on the investments that have already been made.

So, happy to take some questions. If there are questions on other matters, I’m doing a doorstop in the blue room, as you know, shortly with Senator McKenzie and I might leave questions on matters related to the bills and what not until that point. If there are any questions for Alan Tudge on the deal, then we might fire away.

Question: Would the Coalition Government support financial [inaudible] for the Cross River Rail as part of the City deal?

Alan Tudge: So, in relation to Cross River Rail, the State Government has said that this is fully funded. So consequently, our $7 billion investment is being directed elsewhere.

Question: So there won’t be any financial contribution as part of the City Deal?

Alan Tudge: Well, it’s fully funded. It’s fully funded so any additional financial support that we put in is for the projects which aren’t fully funded.

Peter Dutton: I’ll just add to that to that too; I mean we have put billions of additional dollars into the Bruce Highway and to the upgrade of the Gateway Motorway. In relation to the M1, Bert Van Manen has worked hard, with lots of support from the people on the south side of Brisbane, all the way to the Gold Coast. We have put billions of dollars into the M1, into road networks, off ramps, all the rest of it. The work that Luke Howarth has done. All of my colleagues. Ted and Andrew on the Sunshine Coast in relation to rail. All of this comes at enormous expense which Labor hasn’t provided any money for.

There are projects that we’ve got on the table at the moment, where the Commonwealth has made a contribution, and the state is refusing to provide that money. We are not going to put money, we’re not going to pull money out of the M1 and the Bruce Highway and the Gateway Upgrade to put it into Labor projects. Labor has said that those projects are fully funded and we are not going to take away from our investment that we’re putting into those very significant investments to get people out of their cars, get them home more quickly with their families or off to work in the morning more quickly.

Question: Will the deal come with any additional funding beyond the first [indistinct] dollars you have already promised?

Alan Tudge: That’ll be determined but every single city deal that we’ve negotiated so far has ended up with significant financial contributions by the end of the deal we negotiated. As I mentioned, the Townsville City Deal had a $300 million contribution towards it.

Peter Dutton: Tudgey, sorry to interrupt, we’re going to lose some of our colleagues that need to be in the Chamber. So those that need to depart should depart…

Question: There’s very little detail. - how can you say that [indistinct] in marginal Queensland seats?

Alan Tudge: Well, this is the ninth deal that we have been undertaking since we’ve come to government. City deals were something that we pioneered and we’ve already got a number which are already signed. We’ve got a number more which were about to sign and announce in the weeks ahead including Hobart and Adelaide.

This will be the ninth one that we do and we’ve been in discussions with the Council of South East Queensland Mayors led by Graham Quirk for several months now. In fact, one of the first meetings which I had six months ago when I became the Cities Minister was with the Council of South East Queensland Mayors, talking about how we can put a city deal together.

But it is a big decision of the federal cabinet to enter into these discussions because it does involve internal resources immediately going towards it and it likely will involve a very significant financial contribution at the beginning. So, South East Queensland is the third biggest population area in Australia and one of the fastest growing.

Question: [Inaudible question]

Alan Tudge: Listen, our work starts tomorrow and we hope to negotiate this as quickly as possible. But sometimes, these things can take months to actually come together working on exactly what your long-term plans are.

But bear in mind that city deals aren’t about tomorrow’s initiatives; they are about outlining the 10 and 20-year horizon, and that’s what we’ve done with the Western Sydney City Deal, that’s what we’ve done with Townsville, with Darwin, with Geelong, with the other city deals, with Adelaide which we’re about to announce, with Hobart which we’re about to announce – long-term plans to deal with the long-term population growth or other issues.

This will inevitably be different to other city deals. Everyone is different but the priorities, as they’ve been articulated by the colleagues who stands behind me, by Peter Dutton, by other South East Queensland members, from our perspective, it’s got to be on infrastructure, be on jobs, and it’ll be on [indistinct].

Question: [Inaudible] on when the election is called?

Alan Tudge: You enter into good faith discussions and you try to complete things as quickly as possible but I can’t tell you exactly when I think it will [indistinct] by.

Question: Is there any update on when [indistinct] regional city deal?

Alan Tudge: I haven’t been leading that one – Bridget McKenzie has, so you might direct the questions to her in relation to that.

Peter Dutton: Okay. Alright. You can leave the other questions until later.