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Thursday, 23 March 2023
Page: 76

Mr VASTA (Bonner) (16:30): I have a vision—a vision that would take trucks off Brisbane roads, making it safer for Brisbane families by reducing congestion, noise and air pollution; a vision that would bring thousands of job opportunities for locals; a vision that would strengthen our supply chain resilience and increase the export and import capabilities of local businesses; a vision that would revolutionise the Queensland economy and ensure that Queensland is brought into line with the world's best practice for freight. That vision is 'tunnel vision'. A dedicated tunnel connecting the Port of Brisbane to the Inland Rail would transform Brisbane into the logistics capital of Australia.

In the 2022 financial year the Port of Brisbane, located in the north of my electorate of Bonner, contributed $7.8 billion to the Queensland economy. Along with its supply chain networks, the Port of Brisbane also supported 63,000 jobs, with 7,900 of those jobs directly within the port district. This is despite the Port of Brisbane currently running at 10 per cent capacity. Let me reiterate that: it is running at only 10 per cent capacity. Think of the billions of dollars, thousands of jobs and limitless business opportunities we are currently missing out on because the Port of Brisbane is running at only 10 per cent capacity.

We are doing a disservice to current and future generations of Australians if we do not unlock the Port of Brisbane's economic potential. My 'tunnel vision' will help achieve this, by bringing our freight network into the 21st century. It has the added benefit of taking a predicted 13 million trucks off Brisbane roads by 2050. Currently 97 per cent of container freight that leaves the Port of Brisbane is by truck, causing increased road degradation, traffic congestion and noise and air pollution for Brisbane locals. Don't get me wrong; truckies are vital to our economy, and, without them, Australia would stop. We must always be thankful for our truckies. But the reality is: with the prediction of over 50 per cent of Queensland's population living in Brisbane by 2032, the city is becoming increasingly landlocked, and it will not be viable to have this many trucks on Brisbane roads. All it will do is cause more congestion, increase freight costs with time lost and put greater pressure on businesses and supply chains.

'Tunnel vision' is the best solution to get trucks off roads, whilst also causing the least disruption to family homes and our local environment. With fully electric locomotives, we will also ensure our future supply chains reduce their carbon footprint and eliminate the need for smokestacks in the tunnels. There is just one major problem, though: we are still waiting for the Queensland state government to release the Port of Brisbane Strategic Rail Access Study. On 17 February 2021 I wrote to the Queensland state Minister for Transport and Main Roads, urging him to release the study—a study that the former coalition government contributed $20 million to. It's over two years later, and this taxpayer funded report still has not been made public. This means that I, along with other MPs and councillors, cannot consult with our constituents and engage in community feedback. It means we cannot tell them exactly where the train lines will be and we cannot tell them how or if their homes will be impacted.

Simply put, we are all in the dark. This is unfair and un-Australian. While there is no doubt that the cost of the tunnel will be in the billions, the 'tunnel vision' project is about leaving a legacy for future generations. This is about saying that we planned for their future; that, when we had the chance we took the trucks off the road and made the roads safer for families; that we protected our local environment; and that we planned for the future growth of Brisbane. We cannot wait; the time is now. I am calling on the state Labor government to release the Port of Brisbane Strategic Rail Access Study and help plan for a better future for all of Brisbane and, indeed, all of Australia.