Mrs ANDREWS: This evening I would like to talk about transport infrastructure on the Gold Coast, which is home to myself, my family and about 500,000 people outside of school holidays time, when the population on the Gold Coast escalates to probably close to 700,000, if not well beyond that. The reason I rise to speak about transport infrastructure on the Gold Coast is that there are some things that need to be said about the work that this government and future governments need to continue doing.
To put some context around this, the Gold Coast is a very different city to many cities across the world, because it is a linear city. It’s quite different to the cities that we see elsewhere in Australia, which have a central CBD and numerous roads and other transport infrastructure radiating out from that central business district. As a linear city, the Gold Coast has very different needs because the distances that we need to cover can be quite significant. In fact, it’s well over 40 kilometres to go from one end of the Gold Coast to not even the other end of the Gold Coast completely.
There are three main types of transport infrastructure that need some significant ongoing work. Those three areas are the M1, and specifically the upgrades to the M1 that are underway now; light rail; and heavy rail. Let me start to break these down and again put a little bit of context around the work that is currently being undertaken on the M1.
Back in the leadup to the 2007 election, the coalition, which was in government at the time, made a commitment of some $455 million to upgrade the M1, with the priority area being from Tugun to Nerang. That commitment was then matched by Labor, and, of course, the 2007 election was actually won by Labor, so I’m very pleased that that commitment was matched and work did proceed. Unfortunately, the work didn’t proceed from Tugun to Nerang. It actually tended to focus more on the outer suburbs of Brisbane and then head further south. What that meant is that the money that had been allocated, some $450 million by the federal government, ran out and a couple of things happened. It meant that instead of there being an upgrade to eight lanes, that was reduced back to six lanes, and it meant that we needed to go back and seek more money to ensure that the upgrade continued from Mudgeeraba south.
The section of road that is currently being upgraded is between Varsity and Tugun. I note that the minister for infrastructure has allocated an additional $70 million for that road to continue to be upgraded, and I do thank her for doing that because we do need that road completed. Unfortunately, because of the cost overruns and, I would have to say, the difficulties that the state government has brought upon itself in making sure that that transport infrastructure was upgraded, it means that it is now delayed and that there are significant costs associated with this. I am very grateful for the $70 million. That work will continue.
The other two transport infrastructure projects that I would like to see dealt with go to light rail, and it is a very contentious project, particularly on the southern Gold Coast and especially with the proposed route through Palm Beach where it goes down the Gold Coast Highway. It’s a very narrow section of the highway through there. Many of the local residents of Palm Beach are particularly unhappy about the fact that the light rail is proposed to go down there. I would call on future governments federally and in the state to ensure that they are listening to the concerns of the residents and that they take note of and address those particular needs.
In the brief amount of time remaining, I’d like to put my support totally behind an extension of the heavy rail through to Coolangatta and potentially beyond. When I speak to residents or when they contact me about their particular concerns with transport infrastructure, the one thing that they ask for is that the extension of the heavy rail be completed. It currently stops at Varsity Lakes. It needs to be completed. It would change the lives of so many people who commute up to Brisbane and it would be a life changer in terms of access to the airport.