The issues - Terri Butler MP, Labor for Griffith

Labor will build Cross River Rail

A Shorten Labor Government will help end the gridlock in South East Queensland by investing $2.24 billion towards the congestion-busting Cross River Rail project.

This is South East Queensland’s number one infrastructure project – that’s why Labor is making it a priority.

This will allow more trains, more often. It will take cars off the road and get traffic moving. And it will provide a major boost to the economy – with 7700 jobs in the construction phase alone, and 550 ongoing operating jobs.

Labor will partner with the Queensland Government on the project, which will build a new 10.2 kilometre north-south passenger rail line from Bowen Hills to Dutton Park.

The project will incorporate 5.9 kilometres of tunnelling under the Brisbane River and CBD, as well as four new underground stations constructed at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street, and the upgrade of the existing Dutton Park and Exhibition stations.

When completed, the Cross River Rail will remove current bottlenecks by doubling the capacity across the River and allowing more trains to run more often – along every major train line.

And it will mean commuters spend less time in transit and more time doing the things that are important to them. Passengers will save 15 minutes commuting from Beenleigh or the Gold Coast to the Southern CNB.

This is a critical project for South East Queensland’s future – with the population of the region forecast to grow from 3.5 million today to 4.9 million in 2036, investment in good infrastructure is critical.

Demand for passenger rail services is forecast to almost triple by 2036, and passenger train lines are already currently over capacity.

Failure to build the cross river rail will severely limit the region’s ability to grow, and will put more pressure on already congested roads.

Only an out-of-touch prime minister would ignore the critical need for investment in public transport infrastructure.

South East Queensland is crying out for investment in this project – but Mr Turnbull has been ignoring it. He hasn’t put in a dollar of Federal funding to get construction off the ground.

Labor knows that the solution to South East Queensland’s congestion issues is more roads and more rail – that’s why a Shorten Labor Government will build both.

In addition to this $2.24 billion commitment to Cross River Rail, a Shorten Labor Government will invest $1 billion to widen the M1 from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill to eight lanes as well as widening the M1 to six lanes from Varsity Lakes to Tugun.

In supporting the M1 upgrade but ignoring the Cross River Rail Project, Mr Turnbull and the LNP are only doing half the job. This will result in Queenslanders spending more time on a train platform or stuck in traffic.

Only Labor will build more roads and more rail – boosting infrastructure, creating jobs and cutting travel times for Queenslanders.

Benefits of the project:
• The CRR will double public transport capacity across the river into Brisbane CBD from the south, providing ultimate capacity for 24 rail services per hour in each direction.
• There will be a 22% reduction in train crowding by 2036.
• It will increase daily public transport patronage in 2026 by 9,000 passengers and 23,000 passengers in 2036.
• CRR will reduce private vehicle kilometres travelled by 526,000km per day – (a 24 per cent decrease in daily crowded hours in 2026 and 29 per cent in 2036)
• It will provide faster, more reliable travel times across South East Queensland, including to and from the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.


Pensioners and Seniors Kit

The first edition of the 2018 Pensioners and Seniors Kit is now available!

You can access the Kit here, or call my office on 07 3899 4031 and we can send one out to you.

More dramas for Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN

A moratorium on new connections, concerns about speed and reliability, and an outcry about landlines are the latest dramas hitting Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN locally.

Labor’s NBN used fibre to the premises, a superior technology. As Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull decided to use other technologies, including HFC - the same type of cable used for pay TV. The use of this so-called “multi-technology mix” instead of the better quality fibre NBN has caused significant problems.

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Uni funding cuts? No thanks.

In the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook the government announced $2.2 billion worth of cuts to higher education.

They’ve cut the equivalent of 9,500 uni places in 2018. It’s the same story in 2019. That’s a lot of people who’ll be excluded from going to university.

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The Turnbull government should restore the $17 billion cut from schools funding

In 2017 the Turnbull government was able to pass legislation cutting $17 billion from funding that had been earmarked for schools over the next decade. I voted against the bill.

These education funding cuts are being made at the same time as the Turnbull government is seeking to worsen the Budget bottom line by $65 billion over a decade, in the form of corporate tax cuts. Kids and households shouldn’t be asked to pay for tax cuts for multinationals and millionaires.

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The Liberals are the party of pension cuts

From Jenny Macklin

Before the 2013 election the Liberals promised “no cuts to pensions”.

Then in every single Budget the Liberals have tried to cut the pension. 

In the 2014 Budget they tried to cut pension indexation – a cut that would have meant pensioners would be forced to live on $80 a week less within ten years. This unfair cut would have ripped $23 billion from the pockets of pensioners of every single pensioner in Australia.

In the 2014 Budget they cut $1 billion from pensioner concessions – support designed to help pensioners with the cost of living.

In the 2014 Budget they axed the $900 seniors supplement to self funded retirees receiving the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.  

In the 2014 Budget the Liberals tried to reset deeming rates thresholds – a cut that would have seen 500,000 part-pensioners made worse off.

In 2015 the Liberals did a deal with the Greens to cut the pension to around 370,000 pensioners by as much as $12,000 a year by changing the pension assets test. 

In the 2016 Budget the Liberals tried to cut the pension to around 190,000 pensioners as part of a plan to limit overseas travel for pensioners to six weeks.

The Liberals still want to make pensioners born overseas wait longer to get the Age Pension by increasing the residency requirements from 10 to 15 years.

The Liberals still want to increase the pension age to 70 – meaning Australia would have an older pension age than the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand. In the first four years alone around 375,000 Australians will have to wait longer before they can access the pension. This is a $3.6 billion hit to the retirement income of Australians.

The Liberals still want to axe the Energy Supplement to 2 million Australians, including around 400,000 age pensioners  – a cut of $14.10 per fortnight to single pensioners or $365 a year. Couple pensioners will be $21.20 a fortnight worse off or around $550 a year worse off.

Turnbull also wants to completely take away the pension supplement from pensioners who go overseas for more than six weeks, this will see around $120 million ripped from the pockets of pensioners.

And they still refuse to adjust deeming rates for pensioners. It’s been nearly three years since the Turnbull Government last lowered deeming rates, and pensioners are paying the price, with current deeming rates now significantly higher than real rates of return. Interest rates  have fallen from 2.25 percent in February 2015 to 1.50 percent today, yet Turnbull has done nothing.

Labor will not be lectured to by Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison about standing up for pensioners.

The Liberal Party is the Party of pension cuts.


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Malcolm Turnbull must respond to concerns about landline reliability under the NBN

Today's South-East Advertiser has reported on locals' concerns about being able to get help in a power outage, with landlines becoming less reliable once people have the NBN.

Read the story here.

Paul Keene and I held an NBN crisis meeting in Carina recently, and concerns were raised about landlines not working during power outages.

Towards the end of last year there was advice from NBN that neither the Fibre to the Node nor HFC network can be relied on during a power outage: 

“Equipment connected over the NBN network will not work during a power blackout. An exception is if you have Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) with battery backup, in which case you will get up to 5 hours of power provided the battery has been correctly maintained.”

In other words: Malcolm Turnbull's decision to drop full fibre-to-the-premises in favour of a mix of different technologies, including cable tv, has made landlines less reliable when the power goes out.

This is a huge worry for people with medical conditions, and for retirees and those on low incomes.

People with medical conditions, who have medical alarm devices, often depend on a working phone service through their landline.

The NBN co announced a subsidy for monitored alarms. But vulnerable users of non-monitored medical alarms continue to be excluded from the NBN medical alarm subsidy scheme. This should change. Monitored alarms are more expensive. People on low incomes - including elderly pensioners - shouldn't be forced to get rid of their lower-cost non-monitored alarms and pay for expensive monitored alarms. There should be support for people with unmonitored alarms to be able to get back-up batteries for when the power goes out.

But even that's not enough, given that the NBN co has admitted that batteries will only be reliable for people who are lucky enough to have fibre to the premises.

Malcolm Turnbull needs to tell Australians what he's going to do to make sure people can have access to a landline no matter what type of technology they are left with after the NBN is implemented in their area.

So far, the acting Minister has just told people to get a mobile phone as well. Not good enough.  

Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King has said that the risks facing users of non-monitored medical alarms on the NBN are not trivial.

"Labor is calling on the Government to clarify what assistance will be available for vulnerable Australians migrating to the NBN,” Ms King has said.

Universities are lining up to oppose the Turnbull government's cuts and fee hikes

The Turnbull government’s university funding cuts, fee hikes and demands that poorer people pay to help fund the higher education system have been under fire this week.

This week Vice-Chancellors including Prof Andrew Vann from CSU, Prof Greg Craven from the ACU, and Prof Michael Spence from the University of Sydney have been critical of the Turnbull government’s cuts to higher education funding.

Prof Vann said the cuts and fee hikes don’t pass the pub testand would affect regional students. 

Prof Spence described the reduction in the income threshold, at which students commence making payments, as a tax. 

And Prof Craven described the changes as a wrecking ball that would demolish one of the best university systems in the world.

These strong criticisms come as the Turnbull government wants to make students pay more, for less. 

Students will cop fee hikes, meaning they’ll have bigger debts. 

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Internet speeds are languishing under the Turnbull government

The latest Akamai State of the Internet Reportis a damning indictment on the Turnbull’s mismanagement of the NBN – with Australia’s 2.1 million small businesses enduring amongst the poorest average internet speeds in the developed world.

At the 2013 election Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised that he could deliver his inferior version of the NBN faster and cheaper with three key commitments:

  • Minimum download speeds of 25 megabits per second to all Australians by the end of 2016.
  • A public expenditure limit of $29.5 billion.
  • A commitment that areas most under-served by existing telecommunications infrastructure would be prioritised in the rollout. (Source: Liberal policy document - Fast Broadband & an Affordable NB

The unfortunate reality is that under Malcolm Turnbull’s stewardship the NBN has failed to meet any of the benchmarks he set for it.

The Turnbull Government has only delivered average connection speeds of just 11.1Mbps to-date.

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