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Monday, 12 October 2015
Page: 7299

Infrastructure


Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandNationals Whip in the Senate) (14:41): My question is to Senator Colbeck, the Minister representing the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development. Will the minister update the Senate on the announcement made by the government yesterday with regard to public transport in my home state of Queensland?


Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaMinister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) (14:41): Thank you for the question. As Senator Canavan said, yesterday the Prime Minister made an announcement that the government was committing up to $95 million toward stage 2 of the Gold Coast rail. In visiting the Gold Coast recently and seeing the strength of advocacy from local members in that area and from local councils and tourism operators, it was very evident to see the importance of that project, particularly in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games, which is coming up in a few years. That project is supported by all levels of government and will support more than 1,000 jobs during its construction, which is obviously also important to local employment in the region.

As our cities become more densely populated, public transport infrastructure will play an important role in helping to alleviate congestion and boost productivity through improved connectivity. Stage 2 of the Gold Coast light rail will include a 7.3-kilometre extension from the Gold Coast University Hospital to the existing heavy rail network, new stations to be built at Parkwood and Oakwood East and a heavy/light rail interchange to be constructed at Helensvale.

This announcement will see stage 2 constructed in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as I indicated earlier, and construction is to commence early next year. It is expected that the project will not only provide improved transport connectivity during the games but in the longer term provide improved transport connections between Queensland's two largest cities: Brisbane and the Gold Coast.


Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandNationals Whip in the Senate) (14:43): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister further update the Senate on the importance of extending the Gold Coast light rail to stage 2 and its benefits to the south-east corner of Queensland?


Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaMinister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) (14:44): Public transport infrastructure such as stage 2 of the Gold Coast light rail is critical to the development of our cities and to linking our local communities. The Queensland government prioritised this project to the federal government, and we have agreed to provide funding to help it up and running. Stage 2 will allow people to get onto a train in Brisbane and with one change get all the way down to Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. This will also benefit more than 100,000 domestic and international visitors attending the Commonwealth Games in 2018, with stage 2 of the project connecting five competition venues and nine events to the accommodation and public transport interchanges.


Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandNationals Whip in the Senate) (14:45): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the minister also outline how this project continues the coalition government's record of delivering important infrastructure projects throughout the country?


Senator COLBECK (TasmaniaMinister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment) (14:45): Like Senator Canavan, I am very proud of the record that this government has in respect of infrastructure spending and development in this country. It is a very important part of the overall economic process of the country. This government is delivering $50 billion in infrastructure. That is $12 billion more than Labor promised when they were in government in 2013. The recent Infrastructure Australia audit has highlighted the challenges of urban congestion and the importance of public transport. This government is committed to the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time. As the Prime Minister said yesterday:

The reality is that you should assess the merit of infrastructure on its merits and not favour one road over rail or rail over road.

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