PM ties Cross River Rail funds to Brisbane Metro project

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the $10 million funding announcement. Photo: Cameron Atfield The federal government has announced a $10 million contribution to Cross River Rail planning. Photo: Supplied
Nanjing Night Net

An artists’ impression of the proposed Brisbane Metro crossing the Victoria Bridge. Photo: Brisbane City Council

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has intervened in the ongoing dispute between the Queensland government and Brisbane City Council over the planned metro project, announcing a $10 million contribution to Cross River Rail planning.

Mr Turnbull said it was important to get the Cross River Rail planning right and that meant integrating it with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk’s pet project, the Brisbane Metro.

The state government and the council have been at odds over Brisbane Metro since it was announced, with Deputy Premier Jackie Trad all but canning the idea before it got off the ground last month.

That led to days of mixed messages from the state government over its support or otherwise of the council project.

Mr Turnbull said his government would seek to ensure better cooperation between the two levels of government.

“I know Cross River Rail’s been talked about for a long time and the people of Brisbane no doubt feel the project has been around forever and it has been in terms of people talking about it,” he said on Tuesday.

“But the business case was only completed this year and is still being examined by Infrastructure Australia and our department.

“There clearly needs to be better coordination with the city council in terms of the metro, so we’re seeking to provide a constructive role and a partnership role here to do that.”

Standing at the Prime Minister’s right shoulder, Cr Quirk said both the Brisbane Metro and the Cross River Rail were vital projects for the city.

“What we need to do is to make sure that we are working cooperatively around those,” he said.

“There has never been a negative word about Cross River Rail from me and there won’t be, because the reality is we need that piece of infrastructure, as we do the Brisbane Metro.

“The important thing is the coordination of effort, to make sure that both bus and rail services are improved in our city, and that means there has to be a single plan going forward.

“It means that we have to have a spirit of cooperation within that to ensure that the people are the beneficiaries of that cooperation.”

Noticeably absent from the announcement on Tuesday were any members of the state Labor government.

Still, Ms Trad welcomed Mr Turnbull’s funding announcement.

“This is a city-shaping project that will be a driver of new jobs, better housing and increased productivity,” she said.

“The cooperation of the Turnbull government will help expedite the completion of the initial stages of Cross River Rail and is the next step towards fully funding this project.

“I’m delighted Malcolm Turnbull has come on board and agreed to partner with us moving forward.”

But the state opposition’s infrastructure spokeswoman, deputy Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington, said the federal funding was an “embarrassing setback” for the Labor government’s Cross River Rail plan.

“If (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk accepts this money from the Turnbull government, it will be an embarrassing backflip that she was wrong on Brisbane Metro,” she said.

“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to stop fighting with the Brisbane City Council and support the Brisbane Metro project.”

Mr Turnbull said no decision had been made about additional Cross River Rail funding down the track.

“It’s important to get the planning right to see how innovative financing could be deployed, what value capture can be enabled in terms of getting contributions from the uplift in property values,” he said.

“This is all work that needs to be done.”

Federal Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said he was due to meet with Ms Trad on Tuesday afternoon to discuss Cross River Rail.

Ms Trad said Cross River Rail would already be under construction if the Newman government had not torn up a deal it had reached with the then-Labor federal government in 2013.

Federal opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese last month revealed the Newman government had agreed to a Cross River Rail funding deal and had even drafted a media release and organised an announcement atop the Kangaroo Point cliffs.

But the LNP state government reneged on the deal, Mr Albanese said, to help then-oppositon leader Tony Abbott’s bid to become prime minister.

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