Topics: Queensland Labor Government committing no money to Stage 3A of the Light Rail in its Budget.
Journalist: All righty, so your reaction to there being no funding in the State budget for light rail.
Karen Andrews: It's a very disappointing outcome for Gold Coasters that the State Labor Government did not allocate any money or any funding for the extension of the light rail through to Burleigh Heads. It's a predictable but disappointing outcome that State Labor did not commit the funding necessary to extend the light rail through to Burleigh Heads. Now federally the Coalition Government has committed $112 million. Our money remains on the table but the State Labor Government has committed absolutely zero, nothing at all.
Journalist: Will the feds look at increasing the amount that they have put on the table to try and just the project going?
Karen Andrews: The State Labor Government has come to the table, to the negotiating table with zero dollars. Now quite frankly it's very clear that the reason there is no money in the State Government for the extension of the light rail through to Burleigh is because the State Labor Government has no money because they can't manage their budget. They are trying to hide behind negotiations when they have put no money into funding the next extension of the light rail through to Burleigh Heads. I have written to both the Premier and also to Mayor Tom Tate and the local Council regarding light rail, I did that last year. I have always said that I'm committed to making sure that the light rail goes through to Burleigh Heads. But the State Government has failed to come to the table with a genuine interest in supporting Gold Coasters.
Journalist: How much money should the State put on the table?
Karen Andrews: The State Government should be coming to the table with a clear proposal for what they are wanting to achieve. Clearly funding for infrastructure, transport infrastructure is the responsibility of the State Government. They have done the costings. My question to them is have they costed this properly? Have they looked at how they can get good value for money? I'm happy to sit down and talk to them but they haven't put forward a proposal that gives us an opportunity to come up with a solution to the transport needs on the Southern Gold Coast.
Journalist: [inaudible] the Feds put in 38% of the funding costs in Stage 1 of the light rail. Now you're only putting 16% of the cost. How do you reconcile that?
Karen Andrews: It’s not a percentage game and what I have said to the State Government repeatedly is that I’m interested in looking at developing a proposal that is
going to be in the best interests of Gold Coasters, now they haven’t been able to deliver on this project. They have not been able to put funding on the table. They're just sitting there complaining that it's not enough, when they put zero in the State budget. How disingenuous of the State Labor Government to put absolutely nothing into the State budget.
Karen Andrews: The State Treasurer, Jackie Trad, said on ABC radio this morning that the State Labor Government had to make choices. They had to prioritize projects around the state. What's disappointing for Gold Coasters is that the Gold Coast light rail extension 3A was not on State Labor Government’s extension. And their proposal was not worthy of consideration.
Journalist: So have you been calling for a change of where Stage 3 should end?
Karen Andrews: I’ve said I’m happy to talk to the State Government and that remains on the table. I’m happy to talk to them about a project that is going to deliver good value for money for the taxpayer. If that means that looking at the route that its taking then so be it. I get a lot of contact from the community about the termination point for 3A being outside Burleigh Heads State School. That gives the opportunity for the light rail to extend south but also to extend inland if need be. That has been met with a stony silence by the State Labor Government. All they are doing is arguing about the dollars without putting any proposals on the table to deliver this project in a cost effective manner.
Journalist: Why have you not put up as much money towards this extension as you have done for
the first stage? Why won’t the Federal Government cough up that money?
Karen Andrews: I want value for money for the taxpayers and I want to sit down with the State Labor Government and try and work out how we're going to deliver value for money because their proposal costs about $100 million per kilometre. That is an extraordinary amount of money. So I want to sit down with them and work out how we're going to deliver this so it’s value for money.
Journalist: Why is this different, why are you putting less money towards this extension, as you did the first extension? Why can't you give the exactly same amount, and fund exactly same amount as you did?
Karen Andrews: There was not commitment to a percentage amount for the earliest stages of the
light rail. It was a negotiation about the needs of the Gold Coast, but Jackie Trad has come out and said that from a priority point of view, they had to look at what they could fund, and clearly the Gold Coast is not one of their priorities.
Journalist: Would it be cheaper, what's the method behind stopping at Burleigh State School? Is
that a cheaper option, as well as a more flexible option?
Karen Andrews: It reduces the length of the track at this point in time. The argument is that
it needs to get to the central business district of Burleigh Heads. If it stops at Burleigh Heads State School; then it's about two hundred metres that you have to walk south to be in the Burleigh Heads CBD. If it stops around the corner, which is clearly extending the line, you have to walk about 200 metres north to be in the CBD. Look when you're wanting to buy a property, if you're wanting to buy a house you don't come to the table and want to negotiate and the starting point is I've got zero dollars on the table. This is very disingenuous of the State Labor Government. They need to start taking Gold Coasters a little bit more serious.
Journalist: The Gold Coast Mayor says that you should be the ones that put money towards it. He
understands the State government's position on this.
Karen Andrews: That’s a matter for the Mayor. He can have his own opinions on this and I'm
happy to talk to him. I’ve written to both the State Labor Government and to the Council about consultation because one of the things that’s said to me regularly is that the consultation that was undertaken was not genuine, particularly by the State Labor Government; that it was an information session and the views of the locals have not been taken into account. I want to deliver this project. That's what I want to do. I’m not going to be bullied by the State Labor Government.
Journalist: It’s clear what they’re doing though. They’re obviously holding off until you guys up your money so if everyone just go and negotiate it [inaudible] get on with the project and make the Gold Coast happy as opposed to playing games?
Karen Andrews: Jackie Trad’s got my phone number and she can pick up the phone any time she
wants to talk to me but quite frankly Mark Bailey, in particular, has been more interested in grandstanding, playing politics and running this through the media. That is not a genuine negotiation. They are playing games and there is a lot at stake. If they are indeed genuine, ring me up and talk to me.
Journalist: Is it a matter of the Federal Government just doesn’t give a sh*t because it’s a safe
seat, safe area, they’re going to win the election anyway?
Karen Andrews: The Coalition Government put up the money for the extension of the M1 through
to Tugun before the State Labor did. At the 2016 election we put money on the table to extend the M1 from Mudgeeraba to Varsity. All that we got were complaints from State Labor. We then put money on the table to extend from Varsity Lakes to the border, and it just became a political game for State Labor and they're doing exactly the same thing now. I've never taken this seat for granted and I’ve secured funding to upgrade the M1, I’ve secured the money to put on the table, $112 million to upgrade the light rail through to Burleigh Heads. I'm not the one playing games.
Journalist: But can you understand that your constituents don’t care where the funding is coming from. They just want this to happen and at the moment this is turning into another political football as is the M1; while people are sitting on the M1 for hours on end to get to their jobs in Brisbane and back, this is turning into yet another political football between you and the State Government.
Karen Andrews: Agreement has been reached on the M1 so that upgrade is continuing all the way
through to the border, so that work is underway. I’d like it to happen sooner, but that's in the hands of the State Government. I would like them to make sure they prioritise the M1 through to the border. This shouldn't be a political football. I'm very keen to make sure that I deliver the infrastructure that's needed here for Gold Coasters. I’ve said very clearly that I’m more than happy to talk to the State Government. They're the ones that aren't coming to the table.
Journalist: But that’s what it has turned into, a political football.
Karen Andrews: That's a matter for the State Government. As you're well aware they have put absolutely zero dollars in to the budget. So we've committed federally $112 million. There's nothing. There's nothing. This is not even a negotiation at this point in time. This is a State Labor government not being able to manage their budget, not having the money to extend the light rail and trying to blame someone else, and that’s their method of operation. Thank you.