Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee; Report
Mr Deputy Speaker Kelly, I think you are in shock after that contribution by the member for Perth! I welcome the opportunity to make a contribution to debate on the report Innovating transport across Australia: inquiry into automated mass transit from the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities. Reflecting on the title of the committee focuses my mind on some of the critical transport infrastructure needed in my electorate of Moreton, within the city of Brisbane.
Despite being, historically, one of Australia's most decentralised states, the growth of the greater Brisbane area is jumping ahead. Not only does this growth place complex needs on continually overstretched and underfunded frontline services, like schools and hospitals, it makes transport infrastructure an area that needs a lot more attention. On too many occasions in this space, by the time we realise we need the infrastructure we know it's too late. The corridors are gone, or they're impeded, or construction would cause even greater disruption and many other problems. Cross River Rail is a key example of this. Inaction on public transport infrastructure, kicking the can down the road, not only makes it more difficult to build but increases congestion on local roads while we wait even longer.
Connected with Cross River Rail is the fact that the capacity on the Beenleigh-Gold Coast line is set to grow. What does that mean? It means that the case to fix the dangerous Coopers Plains rail crossing becomes even stronger. Not only I, as the member for Moreton, but my predecessor, Gary Hardgrave, have spoken about the urgent need to get this fixed. I think it was back in the nineties when he spoke about this crossing. He said that it should have been done 20 or 30 years earlier.
With that in mind, I wrote to the Brisbane City Council—to the now former Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk—and asked him to reconsider his 2018 budget commitment, where he was only prepared to pay 15 per cent of the costs of this piece of infrastructure. To compare: the LNP-led Brisbane City Council has previously funded 50 per cent of two crossing upgrades on the northern side of the river, one in Geebung and another in Bracken Ridge. Somehow, on the southern side of the river, there has only been one crossing repaired in Moreton, and that was 100 per cent federally funded. So you'd think that they owed the ratepayers of the south side something. But, no, the Lord Mayor was only prepared to fund 15 per cent of the cost of upgrading this very dangerous crossing—a crossing called out by the RACQ as being very dangerous.
I received a response from Graham Quirk, the previous lord mayor, and he admitted that he'd made generous funding arrangements on the north side of Brisbane—that fifty-fifty arrangement—but he said he wasn't willing to contribute to this dangerous crossing on the south side. He refused to budge from his paltry 15 per cent. Maybe his replacement, who actually used to work for the previous member for Moreton, Gary Hardgrave, will step up. The new mayor is Adrian Schrinner . In fact Adrian Schrinner probably wrote the speech a few decades ago saying that this bottleneck at Coopers Plains should be fixed, so he will understand the problem—I hope. I hope he will reconsider the mean-spirited 15 per cent offer.
The LNP council has been treating south side residents as second-class citizens. But in the 2019 LNP Morrison budget it actually got worse for southsiders. Not one single dollar of federal LNP funding could be allocated to eradicate this dangerous crossing, a crossing that causes chaos on local roads and which spreads out—not to mention the danger it causes for pedestrians running for the train station.
Not only is the LNP council refusing to budge from 15 per cent but now the federal LNP, led by Prime Minister Morrison, is refusing to allocate even one dollar for Coopers Plains, which is the highest priority project in Moreton. Again, we have the LNP treating south side residents like second-class citizens. Compare this with the north side, where they're happy to go fifty-fifty. I'm not asking for fifty-fifty; I'm prepared to go a third, a third and a third—local, state and federal doing their fair share. I know the locals are sick of politicians' buck-passing; they've said it to me time and time again. It's only fair that the cost of this upgrade be shared equally between the three levels of government. What could be fairer than federal, state and local all putting in the same amount?
I'm sure that a new Shorten Labor government will contribute $73 million to help eliminate one of South-East Queensland's worst traffic blackspots, the boundary road level crossing at Coopers Plains, to start to emulate some of the work I've seen going on in Victoria under the Andrews government. This road overpass will significantly boost productivity, so it's good for the bosses. But it reduces traffic congestion, so it's good for the environment, with less particulate matter being pumped out into the air. It also improves road safety for local residents.
Labor will focus heavily on tackling traffic congestion. The member for Grayndler made a contribution about that earlier in talking about this report. Labor always makes significant investment in better public transport. We also want to improve roads through practical projects, such as the elimination of the Coopers Plains crossing. I was proud to stand with the member for Grayndler when he announced that commitment of one-third of the funds required to build it.
Labor, at both a federal and a state level, is prepared to get this mess sorted. We have commitments from the local state member, Peter Russo, and the Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad, that they will do their fair share. We now need the current LNP mayor and Prime Minister Morrison to stop playing politics and pay their share. If they did, we'd be much closer to having shovels in the ground and local jobs created. We'll get this bottleneck sorted. We'll make the streets of Moreton electorate safer. It's time for the LNP to get on board.
Federation Chamber adjourned at 19:06