Monday, 24 June 2013
Cross River Rail Project
I rise this evening to speak about one of the most important infrastructure projects for the future of Brisbane, Cross River Rail. Earlier this year the Queensland Liberal National Party state government issued a request to the federal government. The request was simple, to provide $715 million to ensure the construction of a cross-river rail project in Brisbane. The 2008 Inner City Rail Capacity Study found the demand for train services during morning peak times will reach between 70,000 and 80,000 people by 2016. By 2026, modelling suggests that this will have increased to well over 100,000 people each and every day. Brisbane's urban rail network will come to a grinding halt as a result by 2016 unless changes are made.
The Cross River Rail project will feature four new underground stations including one at Woolloongabba and one at Boggo Road, both in my electorate of Griffith on Brisbane's south side. It also includes an underground station, Albert Street, in the city close to the Queensland University of Technology, the Brisbane financial district on Eagle Street and the botanical gardens. Cross River Rail will ensure additional capacity of 17,000 people during peak periods. That is 17,000 people out of cars and onto trains. For anyone who spends their mornings and evenings sitting in traffic on Wynnum Road, on the Story Bridge or on the Captain Cook Bridge, you will know just how significant this project will be. It will also reduce parking problems around the Gabba on game day and game night, and become a magnet for investment in new residential development in that precinct.
The Boggo Road station will also help serve the Boggo Road science and technology precinct and have great bus services straight across the Green Bridge to the University of Queensland, and will also be not far from the services provided by the PA, Princess Alexandra hospital. So given the great advantages to local communities, to local business and university precincts and to the overall state economy because of the positive employment impact of such a large-scale infrastructure project, we may well ask in this House this evening what is the hold-up?
The feasibility study and the detailed planning? They are done, thanks to $20 million from the federal government back in 2009 when I was Prime Minister. The preferred route? It is done as well. The environmental impact study? Done as well—done, ticked off by the Queensland Coordinator-General. Funding? Done as well. We have allocated $715 million to put the first shovel in the ground, the precise amount requested in writing by the Queensland Liberal National Party government.
So what in fact is the hold-up? The hold-up is that the Leader of the Opposition forced Premier Campbell Newman to backflip on the Queensland government's backing for the project, because the Leader of the Opposition has refused funding to all urban rail projects nationwide. In other words, a Premier of Queensland was rolled by a federal opposition leader. Joh Bjelke-Petersen would roll in his grave at such an appalling capitulation. Joh could not believe that any Queensland Premier worth his salt would roll over to any federal leader, let alone a federal opposition leader.
Campbell Newman's state Liberal Nationals claim that $715 million for the cross-river rail is not enough funding, yet the federal opposition says the $715 million is too much funding. Let us be clear about this: the Queensland government know how important this project is. They know there is no alternative. Pulling seats out of carriages to jam more people in is just crazy—carriages are already too overcrowded. That is why the Queensland government put this project forward as a key priority in its Infrastructure Australia submission. That is why the Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads wrote to Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese in April this year outlining what the Queensland government needed for the project to proceed. The Queensland Liberal National Party government stipulated five conditions: all five conditions were acceded to by the Australian government, including the Queensland government's request for $715 million which Queensland would then match.
What was the federal minister's response to the submission from the Queensland government? 'No problem, you've got it. Let's get on with it. Let's build it.' Enter the Leader of the Opposition, the alternative Prime Minister of Australia. The Liberal National Party have turned their back on Brisbane's rail network. They have turned their back on the residents and small businesses who live on Brisbane's southside. Where is the opposition leader's hand-picked Liberal National Party candidate for Griffith on this critical issue for southside residents? Nowhere to be seen. Mr Glasson backs the opposition leader's cancellation of the cross-river rail project that benefits Brisbane southside. In fact, he backs anything that Mr Abbott or Mr Campbell Newman choose to do. Queensland southside deserves better. (Time expired.)