The Palaszczuk Government are going it alone and building the Cross River Rail

 

Read the full speech below.

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (13:15): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that the 2017 budget has ignored Queenslanders' calls for funding of the Cross River Rail (CRR) project;

(2) recognises that the:

(a) CRR project is urgently needed to keep pace with Brisbane's growing population;

(b) existing rail crossing over the Brisbane River in the CBD, the Merivale Bridge, is approaching full capacity;

and

(c) CRR was declared ready to go by the independent experts at Infrastructure Australia in 2012; and

(3) acknowledges that the former Government allocated funding to the CRR project in its 2013 budget, only to have the current Government scrap the investment in its 2014 budget.

 

The biggest news out of the Queensland state budget is that the Palaszczuk government is building the Cross River Rail. I know there is a bit of competition for the biggest news. I just left a Friends of Tourism event here in Canberra, where there was a lot of enthusiasm and buzz in the room for the $176 million that is going up north to the Cairns Convention Centre. We had the member for Herbert in here today talking about the investment that the Queensland government is making in Townsville and the surrounding regions. But for me, the biggest news is Cross River Rail because, as the member for Griffith on the south side in Brisbane, I am very excited that finally someone is actually taking the bull by the horns and funding this incredibly important Cross River Rail project, which will help improve public transport and get more cars off the road. Whether you live in Wynnum, whether you live in Cleveland, it will get more cars off the road on your commute into the CBD.

The Palaszczuk Labor government—and fair play to them—were utterly sick of the Turnbull government for failing to fund this project. The Turnbull government and the LNP have failed Queensland repeatedly, so now the Queensland government has been forced to go it alone. But the best news of all on the Cross River Rail is that the Queensland government are going to start building this year. Thanks to this project, south side residents will save up to 14 minutes travelling to the city on the Cleveland line. It is a city-shaping project that is 10 years in the making and finally it will be delivered by the Palaszczuk Labor government.

There is no question the Prime Minister has let Queensland down by refusing to fund our No. 1 infrastructure priority. Cross River Rail is the key to transforming the public transport network, and the benefits will go far beyond the inner city. It will give us more frequent and reliable public transport options and it will create 1,500 jobs each year of construction as the project ramps up. It will also take around 18,500 car trips off the road each and every day, reducing congestion on our roads and ensuring that everyone can spend more time with their family and friends, and less time sitting in traffic.

Since the now Prime Minister ousted the member for Warringah to become the Prime Minister, he has sought to portray himself as a public transport enthusiast by staging frequent media stunts—a selfie on a train. I just think that is really patronising and disingenuous from a Prime Minister who had come from a government that had taken money off the table for Cross River Rail. This year's federal budget was this Prime Minister's chance not to just take those selfies but to actually do something, to invest in Cross River Rail to alleviate the congestion that threatens continued economic growth in Queensland. But once again we saw no action from the Turnbull government. This is how disingenuous they are: the Treasurer actually stood up and said that there would 'potentially' be funding for Cross River Rail—potentially. What was in the budget? Nothing was in the budget. Do not try to give you the impression you are funding Cross River Rail when you are not funding Cross River Rail; it is pretty simple, Treasurer.

The existing Merivale Bridge across the Brisbane River in CBD is approaching full capacity. I have lost count of the number of times Anthony Albanese, shadow minister for infrastructure, and I have stood up and given press conferences on the Brisbane River insisting on the funding for Cross River Rail. Without a second rail crossing, Brisbane's economic growth will actually be impacted significantly and so will Brisbane's capacity to create the jobs that will be needed for the future.

Infrastructure Australia approved Cross River Rail in 2012. It was funded by the former Labor federal government in 2013 under an arrangement that included elements of value capture. But the then Prime Minister, the member for Warringah, took the money off the table from the feds after the Liberals and Nationals won the 2013 federal election.

Ever since, the now Prime Minister has stalled on committing investment, and is now continuing to stall by creating this new IFU—the infrastructure financing unit; what a waste of time—within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which will sideline infrastructure Australia. IA is an independent body, not a body within Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is a body intended to take the politics out of infrastructure. It will also sideline the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. And it is all completely unnecessary.

By increasing the capacity of the rail network, Cross River Rail will not only benefit my suburbs in Griffith and the suburbs in suburban Brisbane; it will also benefit the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. The project is ready to go. It is time that the Prime Minister stopped stalling, got his act together and made some commitments. It is very unfortunate the Queensland Labor government is having to deliver this project by going it alone. This federal government should be ashamed of its failure to invest in this important economic infrastructure for our state.

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