M1 funding 21/5/18

May 21, 2018

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (17:45): I make this contribution tonight as a member for one of the electorates along the M1 between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. I speak as someone who represents Daisy Hill, one of the suburbs being mentioned frequently in these announcements. But I also speak as someone who has grown up almost literally next to that freeway. I have spent almost all of my life living next to that freeway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane—near the Sports Drive on ramp, near the Rochedale Road off ramp, Rochedale South, Springwood and now at Daisy Hill—so I'd like to think that I know a bit about that freeway. I'd like to think I've probably spent more time on that freeway than any of the other members in this place.

I raise that because it really is quite surprising to hear, whether it be the member for Forde or the member for Bonner—neither of them are horrible people, but it really does surprise me, and it irks me, when I hear the surprise in their voice that there's congestion on this freeway. Anyone who is in any way in touch with our community would know that this is a big, substantial problem, and has been for some time. It really stands out for me when I hear the members opposite talk about this freeway as if it's some problem that's just reared its head. It's been there for so long.

Only Labor has made real investments in that freeway. Something like $312 million was invested last time Labor was in government federally. But even more substantially, our colleagues in the state Labor government made a big commitment on the weekend, which is a tribute to Mick de Brenni, Shannon Fentiman, Cameron Dick and all the members up and down that freeway who fought for that really terrific outcome—near-term funding for the M1. That's not what the government is proposing here, which is money far down the track, as mentioned in the member for Grayndler's amendment. The state government gets it, and that's why it's investing now.

This is a government that's been around for five years now. The member for Forde has been around for something like eight years. In all of that time up to now, not a cent has been spent investing in the M1. This has a lot of history. I think a lot of people in my community will be scratching their heads wondering how it could possibly be true that the member for Forde now expects a round of applause for finally discovering, after five years of government, that there's congestion on the M1. It just beggars belief that he wants a round of applause for that. This isn't about congestion on that side of the parliament; this is about an election. This is about the fact that we've a good campaign in Forde; we've got a terrific candidate again in Des Hardman, who has fought every step of the way for proper funding for the M1. That's why, all of a sudden, we get this conversion. All of a sudden the M1's a big problem, after they've neglected it for so long.

We were the only party that went to the last election with a viable commitment for the M1. We committed $168 million, alongside state money, to upgrade the southbound M1 gateway merge. Most people know that's the main problem—though not, admittedly, the only problem—on that freeway. It's a car park at school time and it's a car park at knock-off time. We made that investment; Des Hardman and Bill Shorten and I made that investment. The government came to the party late with a sort of half-hearted commitment, which they knew wouldn't get past the state government, and so we've had people stuck in traffic for longer than was necessary because the government wanted to play political games with it. And if the member for Forde was any good, if the government was any good, if the LNP had any commitment whatsoever to the people of Logan City, this would have been fixed or started to be fixed some time ago. Instead, we have these politics being played.

Now the M1, as other speakers have said, is the busiest stretch of road in Queensland. It's one of the busiest in the country. We've known that for a long time, even if those opposite are only just waking up to it. So the member for Forde can give himself a pat on the back if he likes, but he should have been working on this for years, not just on the eve of an election. If he cared about our community, if the LNP cared about our community, if they had any sway in this federal government, they wouldn't have left the M1 and our community neglected for so long.

To the people of Logan City but also of the Gold Coast and the southern suburbs of Brisbane—the areas represented by my colleagues who have spoken so far in this debate—our message to you is simple: there is a choice at the next election between a Labor party who has always cared about that part of the world and always wanted to invest in your opportunities, or you can go those with these characters opposite, who want to pull a swiftie on you and say to you, at five minutes to midnight in an election year, that they've known all along that there was a problem. I think I know what our community will choose.