Topics: Queensland Labor Government committing no money to Stage 3A of the Light Rail in its Budget.
Nicole Dyer: Right now joining you is Federal LNP MP for McPherson Karen Andrews, listening very closely to what Ms Tradd had to say. Good morning Ms Andrews.
Karen Andrews: Good morning Nicole, how are you?
Nicole Dyer: I'm very well. The Queensland Labor Government determined to renegotiate that 16 per cent federal contribution to Stage 3 of light rail to Burleigh. Is there any wriggle room?
Karen Andrews: Well let me start by saying, having listened to those interviews, that State Labor made it abundantly clear that they had to make a lot of choices in their budget, they had to prioritise what they can do and clearly stage 3A of the light rail was not a priority for them –
Nicole Dyer: – But they were very upfront by saying because they're getting no federal support by way of Brisbane's Cross River Rail project that they've been left with very little choice. What's your response to that?
Karen Andrews: Well they're trading off their seats in Brisbane, clearly, and making sure the Gold Coasters continue to miss out on a fair level of support from State Labor.
Nicole Dyer: Their response would be: you've put us in a corner; we've been left with very little choice.
Karen Andrews: This is all about politics for State Labor. It was all about politics when we were discussing the funding for upgrades to the M1, they went out and continue to attack, attack, attack and it was only federally when Labor was not budging on what the deal should be, which was a 50/50 split, that the State Labor Government went quiet –
Nicole Dyer: – I didn't really want to talk about that. I'm more concerned about stage three, the fact that there is no money in this budget. Look they didn’t give any indication of whether there's going to be some next year. So what does that mean for the project? Because you've got local constituents who care about this too.
Karen Andrews: Yes and State Labor have committed zero dollars in the budget to Stage 3A of the light rail. Now I've indicated that I am happy to engage on ways to bring this in, in a cost effective manner and to make sure that there is good value for the taxpayer.
Nicole Dyer: And that's to, to make the line shorter?
Karen Andrews: Nicole it's not just making the line shorter, it's looking at a different stop which has got quite a lot of community support. So many people would like the stop to be outside Burleigh Heads State School. That doesn't preclude us from going further south or travelling west at some time in the future, but the State Government needs to start living within its means. There’s money that's on the table from the Federal Government, but there's zero dollars that's been put up by State Labor. So they're playing politics once again.
Nicole Dyer: But you could argue that, again, and I'm playing devil's advocate here, you could argue that so is the Federal Government in saying 16 per cent that's all we've got. We're not giving you anymore.
Karen Andrews: And we want this to be a good value for the taxpayer.
Nicole Dyer: So going back to my original question no wriggle room on that 16 per cent, so they're saying look at this stage there's nada, nothing happening, you know we were hoping to renegotiate that 16 per cent figure, but you're saying that's not going to happen.
Karen Andrews: The State Government has put zero dollars on the table. They're coming to the table with nothing, absolutely nothing, just a lot of rhetoric about how it's up to the Federal Government to bail them out of their budget crisis. Now, they need to be a little bit more sensible, a little bit more proactive, put politics away and come to the table with a genuine desire to deliver a project on time and within budget for the Gold Coast.
Nicole Dyer: So what does this mean for the project? If the State Government’s not going to budge, the Federal Government’s not going to budge that just means this is not going to happen.
Karen Andrews: Our money remains on the table. We are the only level of government that has put money on the table at this point in time. I understand that there may be discussions happening with the local government, so council is looking at what it's going to do, but State Labor has done absolutely nothing. Federally our money remains on the table. But this is not a genuine negotiation, coming to the table and saying we're not even going to give any money at all. We're not going to budget a cent for the Gold Coast, for light rail until such time as there is movement from the Federal Government. I mean that's very disingenuous.
Nicole Dyer: Karen Andrews, thank you, appreciate your side of the story this morning.