TUESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2020
SUBJECTS: Urban Congestion Fund, Morrison’s Road Rorts, Brisbane City Council Election.
ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Good morning everybody. I’m Anika Wells, the Federal Member for Lilley, and I have with me here today the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King, Brisbane City Council Leader of the Opposition and Labor Councillor for Deagon, Jared Cassidy, and Labor’s Lord Mayoral candidate Patrick Condren.
We’re all here today to talk to you about urban congestion and the rorts that have been going on from the Morrison Federal Government and how that’s been doing over Northsiders. We here are really proud to be Northsiders. It’s really cohesive community. We bond together when suburbs flood and suburbs get pelted by hailstorms, so that’s why it leaves a really bad taste in our mouths when we hear that our Federal Government has been picking winners and playing favourites and rewarding some suburbs where there are LNP elected representatives and doing over suburbs which are represented by Labor representatives.
We will not be held hostage by this Morrison Government. We’re here to point out what they are doing wrong and to make sure that they can’t get away with it again. Specifically for us here in Lilley, the RACQ says for example, that Sandgate Road, just north of Junction Road, is one of the worst snarl spots in southeast Queensland. You know what else is just north of Junction Road on Southgate Road? The boundary between the federal state of Brisbane, held by the LNP, and the federal seat of Lilley, held by Labor. Congestion doesn’t stop when you hit Labor-held roads.
The Government shouldn’t be picking winners and playing favourites to sandbag their own members, they should be picking projects based on worth and merit. That’s what we want. We saw it with sports rorts, we’re now seeing it with roads. We want assurance this isn’t going to happen again and that’s what we’re looking for from the Government today. So let me hand over to Catherine to talk to you specifically about the Urban Congestion Fund.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Thanks very much Anika. It’s terrific to again be here in the seat of Lilley with Anika, and also with Jared, your councillor from the Brisbane City Council. Urban congestion as Anika says doesn’t follow electorate boundaries. But unfortunately, what we have seen again from the Morrison Government is a program that has been deliberately rorted to advantage Coalition electorates in the lead up to the election.
You thought sports rorts was bad, you thought sports rorts two was bad, well, the Urban Congestion Fund is sports rorts times two on steroids! What we’ve seen before the election campaign is the Morrison Government made much of the announcement that it had a $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund. During the lead up to the election and during the election campaign, they made a number of announcements about that fund, over $3 billion worth of it. How much do you think went to Labor electorates versus Coalition electorates?
Well, we can announce today that the analysis that we’ve done of the Urban Congestion Funds is that at least 69%, over $2 billion of that fund, went to seats that were held by the Coalition. If you then add in seats that the Government was targeting in the election campaign, those marginal states, 85% of the Urban Congestion Fund went to the Coalition or marginal seats. Now that is absolutely shocking.
When we know that in seats like Lilley, Griffith or Rankin, there were no projects and that in the southeast of Queensland there were 30 projects announced out of this Urban Congestion Fund, just two of those are in Labor seats. The rest of it is all in Coalition seats, benefiting those members during the election campaign.
We know that urban congestion is not confined to electorate boundaries and frankly, this is a rort that has to be exposed, when you see the level of funding this government has directed to those areas.
Also, what we’ve seen is much fanfare about the announcement, people might remember $17 million worth of government funded taxpayer funded advertising about this Urban Congestion Fund during the lead up to the election campaign, but what we’ve seen is substantial under delivery. There were nine projects agreed with the Brisbane City Council and Minister Tudge got up last September and said these projects would be commencing by Christmas or at the very latest the start of this year. What we know again from this, is that there is substantial under delivery.
Of those nine projects in the Brisbane City Council, not a single one has started. Not a single one. So what we’ve seen is a Coalition that has decided to again use the taxpayer for their advantage, with over 85% of funding going to coalition and marginal seats out of this Urban Congestion Fund.
For people in seats like Lilley who have missed out on this fund entirely, when you’re stuck in traffic, when you’re on your way home or on your commute to work, you’d have to say, thank you very much Scott Morrison for once again deciding that you’re going to put your political interests ahead of the interests of the nation.
I might hand over to Jared to say a little bit about the under delivery of projects for the Brisbane City Council, and then we’ll be happy to take questions.
JARED CASSIDY, LABOR COUNCILLOR FOR DEAGON: Rorting public money runs deep in LNP DNA. We’ve seen it here in Brisbane with this LNP administration rorting public money, whether it’s Adrian Schrinner pocketing $100,000 of ratepayers money cash into his backpocket each and every year, LNP Councillors paying for Qantas Club memberships for themselves or free cab rides to concerts, and now we hear that the LNP have teamed up with the Coalition Government to rort roads funding. These are what amounts at the moment to fake road projects, particularly in Bracken Ridge, not one of these projects has started or is close to being started. We have congestion all around this city, Brisbane is now the second most congested city in Australia, and what we have is an LNP administration in Council and a Coalition Government at a national level that is more interested in using public money to advertise themselves than deliver on infrastructure projects.
JOURNALIST: The nine projects around Brisbane, have you got a list of those?
CASSIDY: There is one in Teneriffe that is at the moment paint on the road, and there were several in Bracken Ridge that were announced by Luke Howarth in what was a very marginal LNP seat and then LNP councillor Amanda Cooper, and none of them have started. There isn’t even paint on the road. So we can get you the list of those. But the large proportion of those were in Bracken Ridge, which is in the federal seat of Petrie, and there’s been no movement whatsoever on those projects.
JOURNALIST: More broadly, across Brisbane what are some of the projects that have just started or haven’t started yet?
KING: Well, again in terms of the Urban Congestion Fund, there were nine in the Brisbane City Council and we haven’t seen any commencements and across the country so far only three projects have actually started out of the Urban Congestion Fund. Despite Minister Tudge announcing that they would be started by Christmas, they put it back a bit and said it would be started by the start of this year, and that’s repeated across the country. There are hundreds of these projects that they announced, $3 billion worth of them for roads and roundabouts, park and ride, level crossings. $3 billion of projects, $2 billion of which was announced in Coalition held seats.