Engineering, Passenger Rail

Queensland fully commits to CRR

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has questioned Queensland’s commitment to the Inland Rail project after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the state would fully fund Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project without federal funding.

Palaszczuk, treasurer Curtis Pitt, and transport minister Jackie Trad announced the State Government will fully fund the $5.4 billion project, which it has been asking the Commonwealth Government to help fund for some time.

Palaszczuk left the door open for federal funding, but said the project was too important for the state to keep waiting.

“The importance of Cross River Rail for the future of South East Queensland is unquestionable,” the premier said. “Industry experts and the community agree that we need this project and we need it now. That is why my government is fully funding the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project.

“However, we are not shutting the door on other sources of funding – the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority will continue to look at options to partner with the private sector and we expect to secure funds from future Australian Governments.”

Treasurer Curtis Pitt, who handed down the State Budget on Tuesday, said the FY18 Budget allocates $2.8 billion over the forward estimates, with a further $2.6 billion to be committed in future Budgets.

“We will no longer wait for the do-nothing Turnbull Government. We are getting on with building Cross River Rail,” Pitt said.

The news did not seem to please the prime minister, who was asked by shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese in question time, why the Coalition had so far failed to fund the project.

“Why is the prime minister purporting to support public transport in our cities, while pretending this essential project is not ready to go?” Albanese asked.

The prime minister accused Labor of being too focused on urban rail projects, suggesting the State Government should do more to support Inland Rail – a project which has received Infrastructure Australia approval.

“[Consider] Inland Rail, which the Labor Party doesn’t have much passion for, and the Queensland premier wants to sort of hold hostage until there’s commitment to the Cross River Rail in Brisbane,” the PM said during Question Time on Tuesday.

“A vital piece of nation-building infrastructure across regional Australia is to be held hostage until there is commitment to an urban rail project in the middle of Brisbane.”

The PM seems determined not to waiver from the Infrastructure Australia guidance in this case.

“The Cross River Rail project is being considered by Infrastructure Australia now … and we are awaiting Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of the project.”