Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Fairfax Electorate: Rail Infrastructure
A Courier Mail survey has revealed that a new heavy passenger rail line between Beerwah and the Maroochydore CBD is the top priority for Queenslanders. This is terrific news, but it tells Sunshine Coast locals something they already know, which is that we must have this new heavy passenger line all the way through to our new CBD. We know that, especially in light of extraordinary population growth in our region, we need better transport. We also know that the commute between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane continues to get busier, take more time and be less safe. That is despite the coalition's record investment of $3.2 billion on the Bruce Highway between Brisbane and Gympie.
This rail line is key to getting people out of cars and onto public transport between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. It's also vitally important to allow for density of population around new railway stations along that new link, which allows for good population planning and settlement in one of Australia's fastest-growing regions.
It was for these reasons, plus the fact that we are hosting the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games on the Sunshine Coast, that, with my colleague the member for Fisher, we spent over five years working with our community on a campaign that unlocked $1.6 billion towards that rail link in the budget announced by the coalition earlier this year. That $1.6 billion constitutes 50 per cent of a $3.2 billion project, a project cost that was done with the private sector in conjunction with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads and was overseen and reviewed by both Infrastructure Australia and the fast rail authority.
In the budget that has recently been brought down by the new Labor government, the $1.6 billion thankfully hasn't been ripped out, which is a good thing. However, within the forward estimates for the next four years, instead of there being $250 million spent on this rail line, it will only be $50 million, and that's not until year 4. In other words, we are looking at considerable delays. In a high-inflationary environment, we know that the delay caused by the Albanese government means that the overall cost will go up for this rail line. The total cost of $3.2 billion will undoubtedly not cut the mustard, so we need to continue the fight and ask them to bring it forward.