Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Groom Electorate: Rail Infrastructure
I rise to welcome and acknowledge comments in Queensland media today about infrastructure needs, particularly in the broader south-east Queensland region, which encompasses my home town, my home city, Toowoomba. Specifically, media today refers to a proposal from the Council Of Mayors South East Queensland, chaired by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk in Brisbane. The deputy chair is His Worship Paul Antonio, the mayor of Toowoomba.
This a proposal for rapid rail network trains, travelling up to 250 kilometres an hour, carrying passengers to Brisbane from the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Toowoomba in under 45 minutes. This is a very ambitious plan. This media today repeats what was stated in the media back on 8 October, which talked about this ambitious plan and explained very clearly the blueprint for it was in a report by major infrastructure consultants SMEC, who were commissioned by the Council Of Mayors South East Queensland to look at transport, in that case, as part of the feasibility study into a possible Olympic Games bid for south-east Queensland in the years to come. That's very, very exciting.
That report referred to the inclusion of Toowoomba in that long-term planning. It suggested that another recent $15 million business case grant to determine passenger rail requirements between Toowoomba and Brisbane could bring that plan forward. I acknowledge that in particular because that's specifically the plan, the grant, I announced as the local member for Groom and as former Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government back at budget time on 8 May this year. I stress the budget papers say:
The Australian Government has committed $15 million for planning for the Toowoomba to Brisbane Passenger Rail … through the Major Project Business Case Fund.
It's committed. It's a proposal that I developed after consulting John Fullerton, the CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Certainly I have discussed it with Richard Wankmuller, the CEO of Inland Rail. That inland rail connection could give us the infrastructure on which to base passenger rail connection as well.
Here we are, almost six months down the track from that announcement. I say to the bureaucrats and the planners: we are fair dinkum about regional development, we are fair dinkum about managing congestion in major centres and we are fair dinkum about this Toowoomba-Brisbane passenger rail network. I'm concerned that after six months there appears to have been no progress on getting that study underway. I certainly will be following this up. I will not let this project slip away.