Prime Minister – Transcript – Press Conference – Brisbane, Queensland

Liberal Party of Australia

PRIME MINISTER: Well, good morning, everyone, it’s great to be here at the Gabba. It’s great to be here with Premier Palaszczuk and Lord Mayor Schrinner and all of the South East Queensland mayors joined, of course, by Steven Miles and Paul Fletcher and my colleagues here in Brisbane, federal colleagues here in Brisbane. This is an exciting day and it’s a day that we’ve been working together towards now for several years as we worked through COVID together. This partnership was always very much close to our heart, and it’s a great thrill that we’ve been able to come here today. All three levels of government all here in South East Queensland to deliver what is a $1.8 billion boost to the South East Queensland economy. But not just that. It’s a boost to the wellbeing and liveability of this incredible area of Australia in South East Queensland, a booming area of the country, a booming area of the country when it comes to innovation, to technology, to infrastructure, to manufacturing, to advances in waste management and dealing with the environmental challenges that we have right across South East Queensland, which are which are caused by the positive issue of growth. And we want to have a South East Queensland that is growing, but we also want to have a south east Queensland that is managing that growth responsibly and is ensuring that we’re protecting the liveability of the cities that make up South East Queensland.

And I particularly want to thank all the mayors for their tremendous work in pulling this together. Many councils involved in these projects and are working together with the Premier and myself and our ministers. We’ve been able to land on what I think is a great portfolio of projects that will take South East Queensland forward, over not just the next decade but beyond. And to be doing it here at the Gabba is exciting, not just because of the Gabba metro that sits at the heart of this arrangement, particularly between the Commonwealth and the State Government. But of course, here we are at the Gabba with the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, which is an Olympics not just for Brisbane or even South East Queensland, but indeed all of Queensland and all of the country. And to be here at the Gabba, as we’re announcing this important set of arrangements, which really does provide a platform for the further cooperation there will be as we move towards the 2032 Games.

But today it’s all about the challenges and the growth opportunities that come from South East Queensland. The Commonwealth is very pleased to be contributing $667 million to this partnership of $1.8 billion and this means 2,000 jobs, 2,000 jobs importantly for the state of Queensland and particularly here in South East Queensland. So I want to thank you Premier for the partnership. We work together on many different projects and this one has been incredibly important and it’s great to be joining all three levels of government here today to make this announcement. And I’ll pass you onto the Premier.

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Thanks Prime Minister and of course, I join with the Prime Minister in saying that this is a great day for SEQ. This City Deal signifies that all three levels of government can work very constructively and very well together when it’s in the best interests of the people of this state. And as the Prime Minister says, of course, that this City Deal is also really important because it’s also a catalyst for the Olympic Games, the Olympic Games here in 2032, where we’ll see the Gabba completely rebuilt. But right across from the Gabba, of course, is the Cross River Rail and also the new interchange with the Brisbane Metro. So this is about connectivity. It’s actually another chunk in that armour of infrastructure that is absolutely necessary for the growing population of the South East delivering jobs. We know how important it is for people to have jobs because that is so important for a family. So we’re very pleased that this City Deal provides a whole range of initiatives, whether it’s studies into transport corridors liveability. There’s also funding for a business case or a cultural centre for First Nations people. Infrastructure upgrades whether it’s the entertainment precinct up in Toowoomba, ferry terminals out at a Dunwich. These are all really important infrastructure pieces for the South East. Of course, this builds on the City Deal that was done in Townsville. And what we saw there is that all levels of government continue to contribute money, creating more jobs in the north of our state. So I always say we work best when we work together. It’s great to be joined by the Prime Minister here today, my Deputy Premier. It’s great to see my good friend, the Lord Mayor. And of course, we also have a very common factor too not only just doing this City Deal, but of course when it comes to shaping the legacy that will need it as part of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

COUNCILLOR ADRIAN SCHRINNER, LORD MAYOR OF BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL: I have no doubt that this is a day that will change the history of our region. This is not a deal for a city, this is a deal for a whole region. We have 11 different councils across this region now involved in a region shaping deal, a deal that will deal with the growth that our region is facing and supercharge its investment where it is needed. Last year, on the 21st of July, we also had a day that will change the region and that is the hosting of the 2032 Olympic Games, the announcement on the 21st of July last year. That is a day that will change the future of our region. Today, equally is another day that will change the future of our region. People want to come and live here, and I know why. We all know why all of us here know why people want to come and live in South East Queensland. The critical thing is dealing with that growth, with investment in infrastructure, with investment in the liveability of our region. And this is exactly what the deal does. It will create a more liveable region, a more connected region, a region with more jobs, and it will be a region that we are able to welcome more people to because of that investment that is being done today. What we’re seeing today is the first five years, the foundation of a City Deal that will last for 20 years. It’s never been achieved before to see the three levels of government here in South East Queensland working together in this way, it is an incredibly positive thing. And as the Premier and the Prime Minister have said, we can achieve more when we work together.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. And can I also thank the Premier and the Lord Mayor and and all the mayors here for the great working partnership we’ve had, particularly over these last few weeks, and I’m sure we’d all want to join in thanking the people of South East Queensland for the way they’ve responded to the most recent floods. We’ll continue to keep working together on the rebuild and the clean up and all of those issues. But the partnership between the three levels of government, I think, has been first class and very much want to thank the Premier and the Lord Mayor, but particularly the other mayors who are with us, but the people of South East Queensland. Happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST: Why did it take you all so long to agree on this, were there some tense negotiations, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, when you bring together any partnership, there are many views you’ve got to put around the table and you’ve got to prioritise them, of course. The early, we first announced going ahead with this back in 2019, but obviously we’ve been dealing with the issues of the pandemic over the last couple of years and that, that obviously had an impact on the progress of those discussions. There were other issues we’re obviously focusing on very intently and particularly with the Premier and I in working through the pandemic. But, you know, getting the deal right is always important. The Premier’s right to mention the deal that we’ve had up in Townsville, which has really transformed that city and really, I think, lifted that region. And the centrepiece of that is, of course, the stadium up there in Townsville, where the Cowboys had a pretty good win on the weekend. There were a lot of good Queensland wins on the weekend. There was a pretty nice win down a Shark Park too, I note in passing. But what is great…

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: [inaudible] Queenslander.

PRIME MINISTER: It is. Queensland have had big wins over the weekend. So you know, these things take time to get right and to get the priorities put forward. And I think we’ve worked through them well and I thank everybody for the way they’ve worked to get to it to a good result.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] question why is this being announced now, just weeks out from a federal election, after three years [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: Because we’ve been able to complete the deal and as soon as we’ve been able to complete the deal, we made the announcement. The urgency around this is the need, particularly as we’re moving forward into the next phase of getting arrangements together for the Olympics is that this is a foundation I think that we build on and a very strong one because as the Premier said, it doesn’t just go to the economics of this and the 2,000 jobs, it goes to the liveability and connected connectivity of this entire region. And that is where I think we’re going to see the big benefits come because as the Lord Mayor has said, bringing people to the region, people want to live here and more and more people want to live here. And there’s good reason for that. Jobs, economic opportunities, the liveability of the South East Queensland region, we’re seeing in the regional areas of South East Queensland more pressures coming as people see the opportunities to live and work in South East Queensland. And this deal really speaks to the opportunities and meeting those objectives. But the Premier or the Lord Mayor may wish to comment as well.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on, like, we’re here in Queensland today, obviously on a federal level very safe for the Coalition, 23 of 30 seats belonging to the Coalition, is Queensland going to be the lynchpin state for the election?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, every electorate in every part of the country obviously matters. Today, we’re coming here as a partnership to talk about what’s happening in South East Queensland. I’m happy to deal with some political issues later, if you’d like to. But I think in the spirit of the partnership we’re dealing with today, it’s all about the work that we’re doing together, the work that we’ve done together over the course of many years now, and particularly most recently in how we work together to both respond to the to the terrible floods that have been experienced here in South East Queensland and in the recovery and clean up operations that are well underway.

JOURNALIST: With this infrastructure, and the flood recovery infrastructure as well, has all of that taken into account the prospect of future flooding and sea level rises [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Premier may wish to talk about this as well, but she and I had a very positive discussion just a week or so ago when I was up on the road to Gympie, in fact, and we were talking particularly about a number of the flood mitigation projects. And so we’ll continue to work together on those matters. I think whether it’s here or particularly down and also in the northern rivers of New South Wales, where they had a one in 500 year flood, which is just hard to get your head around. Take the worst flood you’ve ever seen in Queensland here in Brisbane and then at 2.14 metres to it, that’s what occurred in the Northern Rivers and the Minister for Recovery and Resilience, Bridget McKenzie, announced down there the other day $150 million going into some important resilience works which go to river management. But even within this deal, as the Lord Mayor has said, there is an important projects that are addressing those issues because that’s about the liveability and sustainability of South East Queensland.

JOURNALIST: Have you accounted for further floods?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, of course, but I mean, the Lord Mayor or the Premier may wish to comment, because they do the building. We do the funding.

COUNCILLOR ADRIAN SCHRINNER, LORD MAYOR OF BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL: Yes, it’s a really good question. The reality is anything we build these days is built with flood resilience and climate resilience in mind, and that’s that’s evidenced by the new infrastructure that’s been built in recent years. I guess, two really poignant examples are we built two ferry terminals just before Christmas. One at Howard Smith Wharves and one at South Bank. Those ferry terminals are still standing strong after this dramatic flood that we’ve had because we built them strong and that will be the same for every piece of infrastructure. The one thing I wanted to point out was, which is really exciting, is that this deal has a $40 million investment into resilient rivers. And we all know one of the big challenges with any flood in South East Queensland is the rich, fertile soil from the Lockyer Valley getting washed down into the Brisbane River into people’s homes and businesses. Resilient rivers will help address that issue by keeping the soil on the land where it belongs. So this is a really exciting programme. It will clean up our waterways, clean up our river, clean up our bay.

JOURNALIST: The City Deal in Townsville built a whole stadium for $250 million and the City Deal in Darwin is about relocating a university campus into the CBD, also for $250 million. Why is the new Gabba station for the Brisbane Metro costing $450 million?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, again, I’ll pass that on to my colleagues in terms of the costings. Paul Fletcher may wish to comment on this as well. The City Deals are developed as a partnership, so the priorities for the projects are worked up between the parties. And you’re right, the city deals in Western Australia, I was standing with Premier McGowan just the other day, which we did a top up of because of the increasing costs of delivering those projects or the arrangements down in northern Tasmania, where we’ve made investments, which have focused a lot on education. In Darwin in particular, that project focused on a green city in the middle of Australia’s tropical capital up there in Darwin. And so the projects are different and they are defined by the needs and the planning of the future in those cities and the projects which are involved in here, particularly the transport ones, they’re complex. But Paul, did you want to add to that?

THE HON. PAUL FLETCHER MP, FEDERAL MINISTER FOR URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE: Look, as Commonwealth Cities Minister, can I say first, I’m really pleased to be here with the Prime Minister, with the Premier, with the Lord Mayor and with the Deputy Premier. And Lord Mayor and Deputy Premier, can I thank you for the many hours that we have spent together in working through and arriving at the elements of what’s being announced today. And can I thank your respective officials, officers, departments and can I also acknowledge the, all the Commonwealth officials. It’s been a great teamwork across three levels of government, and that really comes to the question, I think about the Gabba metro station as a real centrepiece of this deal. As the Prime Minister said, this is about three levels of government coming together to identify priorities. What we know is that we need to prepare for the growth in South East Queensland is experiencing also the Olympics. While this is not the Olympics deal between governments, it’s an important precursor and demonstration of our collective capability to agree priorities. And so that Gabba station is going to be enormously important as the interface between heavy rail between Brisbane Metro. Very important to meet the needs of the city as it grows and people commuting into and out of the city, but also very important to meet the needs for the Olympics.

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: I might just let the Deputy Premier say a few words.

THE HON. STEVEN MILES MP, DEPUTY PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Thanks Premier. The south east is the country’s fastest growing region and with this deal, all three levels of government commit to work together to maintain its liveability to make sure people can get around, as well as crucial things like our waste treatment, recycling and resource recovery embedded in this plan as a plan to make sure we also create jobs and support the growing corridor, particularly to the north with our growth area compacts for Caboolture West. So I’ve been really pleased to work with Minister Fletcher and the Lord Mayor in putting this, putting this deal together. The centrepiece of the new Gabba station is much more than a new station. It’s a major new transport interchange linking our flagship cross river rail of around heavy, heavy rail upgrades with the Brisbane City Council’s flagship metro project. People will be able to change from metro to trains here, access our new train stations and of course get to and from the fantastic Olympics venue the Gabba that will be rebuilt.

JOURNALIST: Premier, until now, the State Government has resisted funding or supporting Brisbane Metro. Why now?

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Well, it’s absolutely a critical piece of the infrastructure, so, you know, we’re very much committed …

JOURNALIST: Why wasn’t it before?

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Sorry?

JOURNALIST: Why wasn’t it before?

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Oh, I think it was because, you know, we have been working with the council about the alignments, I think the Lord Mayor would testify to that as well. But this one now is the major connectivity when you’re looking at this being a Central Olympics venue, but also to the number of people that use this Gabba on a weekly basis. The connectivity between your new metro interchange and the Cross River Rail is the, you know, the final signature piece. The final signature piece of the interchange on public transport to get to this venue.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] Gold Coast not proceeding, what would you say to the people of the GC about how they benefit from all this?

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Well, well, what I can say there is that there has been a lot of infrastructure that’s gone into the Gold Coast, even when we look at the Commonwealth Games, we had the Queen’s Baton Relay just come here the other day. A lot of that infrastructure that was built for the Commonwealth Games is going to be used for the Olympics. So and also too we’ve committed a lot of money for the continuation both at the federal level, state and Council for the Light Rail as well. So when you add all of that in as well, it’s a very huge piece of investment in infrastructure.

JOURNALIST: Premier, when will the Gabba interchange be ready for people?

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: I’ll just double check, I think it’s going to be aligned, definitely in time when the Cross River Rail starts in 2024/25, do you think maybe earlier? Yeah, we’ll get get the final date for you.

JOURNALIST: When do the bulldozers move in here?

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: What we’re doing first is finishing Cross River Rail, and it actually works really well because Cross River Rail will be finished and then the demolition work can start on this. So we’re doing one one piece first and then the next piece, but it’ll all be finished well in advance of the 2032 Olympics.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: Ah yeah well, the Prime Minister and I actually agree to the funding envelope for that, so there’s no issues with that at all. Yeah.

PRIME MINISTER: Just let’s wait for the plane to go over.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: In New South Wales, we have delivered $1.7 billion in commitments, both in the flood response and the flood recovery. And around the country, in fact, our Commonwealth Disaster Payment now has supported 1.2 million people and over $1 billion has already been paid out. It’s already out the door supporting people, and that has been, in addition to that, there’s the support that we’ve provided, both in partnership with the New South Wales State Government as well as up here in Queensland. And we’re working through some additional requests that have been made by the Queensland Government that we received on the weekend. These floods are the worst we’ve ever seen in the northern rivers, and I can understand the frustration. But what I can assure you is that the commitment both in people, defence forces, the support for the state government’s packages of measures that the direct support which is already seen, as I say, $1.7 billion to support the people of New South Wales, and the majority of that is going up into the Northern Rivers area. I mean, we will be there with them to build back and to ensure that they can reclaim what was one in 500 year flood. I think the politicisation of natural disasters is very unfortunate. Everyone is just working together to do the best they possibly can to support people that are in terrible need. My government is doing that. State governments are doing that. Local councils are doing that. We’re all working together to help people, and I don’t think the politicisation of that is a helpful thing.

JOURNALIST: Is next financial year the right time to be withdrawing the low and middle income tax offsets, given the cost of living at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER: The Government is very conscious of the cost of living impacts, particularly at the moment with the war in Ukraine and the impact that is especially having on fuel prices because fuel prices just don’t hit the economy and family budgets when they fill up that they have a knock on effect across the economy. And so we’re very conscious of those cost of living pressures that have been caused by these awful events we’ve seen with the unlawful invasion of Ukraine by Russia. And so the budget is on next week, and we’ve been carefully considering our response to ensure that we can deliver a budget that addresses those immediate needs, but also ensures that we continue on with our strong economic plan for a stronger economy, which means a stronger future for Australia. And that includes our ability to be able to be investing in the very projects we’re talking about here. You can’t invest in these projects unless you’re running a strong economy. That’s true at the state level, as it is at the federal level, and our economic plan is very much designed to achieve that. But I want to thank everybody again for coming here today. I want to thank especially the Premier and the Lord Mayor and the other mayors who are joining with us today, the Deputy Premier here in Queensland, of course Minister Fletcher. And for the great work that they’ve done together to bring this deal together. And we look forward to working to the 2032 Games Premier and Lord Mayor and all the mayors because this is a games for not just Brisbane, not just South East Queensland, it’s a games for Australia, a games that is well beyond politics. It’s a games that I think Australians will be looking forward to. And those kids would have been out swimming in the pools of Brisbane this morning …

THE HON. ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND: That’s right.

PRIME MINISTER: With their dreams very much alive for 2032. Thanks very much, everyone. Thank you very much.

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