Friday 20th Sep, 2019

Gold Coast MP backed Turnbull for light rail funding

Gold Coast Light Rail extension, Inset Stuart Robert. Photo: David Ansen / Creative Commons / Inset: Stuart Robert / Twitter
Photo: David Ansen / Creative Commons / Inset: Stuart Robert / Twitter

Federal member for Fadden Stuart Robert says he turned against his “mate,” Tony Abbott because he was “absolutely” confident a leadership change would translate to economic benefits for the Gold Coast.

Speaking on his Facebook Page on Wednesday, Robert – whose electorate includes the Gold Coast – said he has spoken to new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull about the Commonwealth contributing funding to the extension of the Gold Coast Light Rail in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“[Turnbull is] a great friend of the Gold Coast and he understands the need for integration [of the light rail system] with the heavy rail system in time for the Commonwealth Games,” Robert wrote to his followers.

“Although public transport is not a responsibility of the Federal Government, this proposal is a priority for our city and I believe we now have an opportunity to reconsider contributing funding to ensure it is delivered for our community.”

Robert says he has long been a supporter of light rail, speaking in Canberra as early as 2008 about light rail on the Gold Coast.

His comments followed an article in the Gold Coast Bulletin, which quoted the Gold Coast MP, “Politics is not about friendship – it’s about capacity and confidence”.

“Those are the rules of the game and we all know them when we enter politics.

“Tony was devastated. I was also devastated but the national interest was fundamental … Mr Turnbull has a wealth of economic experience and there will be a new focus on growing the economy, creating jobs, driving productivity and housing policy.”

Robert says he has been close friends with Abbott since they both went on an official visit to Afghanistan together in 2007.

“This was not a decision I made lightly,” he was quoted as saying.

Light rail is one of three issues Robert said he would raise with the new prime minister. He is also prioritising the economy and community safety.

“Light rail is essential for moving people around denser urban areas and is far more effective than roads,” he was quoted in the Bulletin.

Robert’s words on light rail follow Queensland transport minister Jacki Trad’s statement in State Parliament on Tuesday. Trad said she expected Turnbull to re-think former prime minister Tony Abbott’s decision to “slam” the door on Commonwealth funding for the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 extension.

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