Improving the region’s public transport system would be part of the deal. Picture: Brett Wortman/Sunshine Coast Daily
Improving the region’s public transport system would be part of the deal. Picture: Brett Wortman/Sunshine Coast Daily

Landmark deal top of Labor’s agenda

A LANDMARK deal to plan and fund vital transport and other infrastructure for southeast Queensland's population surge over the next couple of decades will be a top priority if Labor wins next year's federal election.

"I see great potential for collaboration on a southeast Queensland City Partnership under a Shorten Labor government," Opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said.

"A southeast Queensland City Partnership will be high on its agenda."

It is the closest either major party has come to locking themselves into a formal agreement with the State Government and councils in the region for a united approach to delivering new public transport, roads, digital infrastructure, industry hubs and other essential facilities.

Future SEQ for online. sup
Future SEQ for online. sup

The need for a 15 to 20-year agreement between all levels of government was the top item of a 20-point action plan developed from News Queensland's recent Future SEQ series examining challenges and exploring the opportunities for the region in the next quarter-century as the population balloons an extra two million to 5.5 million.

The Palaszczuk Government and SEQ Council of Mayors are committed to it and lobbying both the Coalition Government and ALP Opposition to sign up.


Future SEQ for online. sup
Future SEQ for online. sup


Measures to counter the pressures of population growth, congestion, increasing residential density and urban sprawl will be a focus of the election campaign in the first half of next year as the parties battle for urban seats.

The Coalition has so far announced eight City Deal agreements - its version of City Partnerships - nationwide, but it has so far failed to commit to one for southeast Queensland, which would be the largest in the country.


Future SEQ for online. sup
Future SEQ for online. sup


Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "My commitment is to invest in and build more roads and rail lines in Queensland in even better ways, whether using our city deal model or not.

"All that matters is getting the job done."

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said: "We welcome the commitment that a future Labor government would work with us to deliver a deal for the southeast, something the Morrison Government has so far ignored.

"A City Deal or partnership for SEQ will support the delivery of the jobs, new industries and critical infrastructure that our growing region needs."


Future SEQ for online. sup
Future SEQ for online. sup


Brisbane Lord Mayor and council of mayors chairman Graham Quirk said: "More than two-thirds of Australia's population growth is coming from Sydney, Melbourne and southeast Queensland.

"Western Sydney and Geelong already have City Deals in place to better accommodate this growth, which opens the door for the Federal Government to formally commit to start the negotiation process for an SEQ City Deal. The issue for southeast Queensland isn't population growth, the issue is not having a strategic, long-term and funded plan to sustainably manage this growth."

Number two of our action plan points was a proposal by the Council of Mayors for a rapid rail network that would allow passengers to travel between Brisbane and the Gold or Sunshine coasts or Toowoomba in 45 minutes or less.

The Coalition has already given partial backing, directing $21.5 million to groups developing business cases for faster rail links to the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

The need for rapid transport in and between burgeoning cities was reinforced at this week's COAG population summit by the Prime Minister's demographics adviser, Professor Peter McDonald.

The rapid rail network for SEQ would cost $10 billion-$15 billion and is part of a broader package of transport infrastructure priorities, proposed by the mayors, which will be finalised in the new year. That plan is aligned to a feasibility study, also due early next year, into whether the southeast should bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games - item three on the action plan.

The Palaszczuk Government has given partial backing, saying it will consider the report and talk to the International Olympic Committee about the size of venues required. The Coalition said it had not yet received any formal approach about support.


The Future SEQ action plan has drawn strong support overall from policymakers. The Palaszczuk Government has fully or partially committed to 13 of the points, while the LNP has backed all 20.

"I strongly endorse the Future SEQ action plan because I want Queensland's best days to be ahead of us, not behind us," State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said.

"Congestion is getting worse because governments haven't planned for growth.

"People are sick of the political blame games around funding splits between different levels of government. They just want a plan and a vision to fix our overcrowded roads and broken rail system."

The Morrison Government is fully, or partly behind, eight of the 15 relevant points. But the Bill Shorten-led Opposition did not provide detailed responses to any other than the City Partnerships.

The Council of Mayors, Brisbane City Council and Brisbane Marketing endorsed all but two of the 17 points relevant to them. And Labor's Brisbane City lord mayoral candidate for the 2020 local council elections, Rod Harding, gave the thumbs-up to all but three.

A strategy of using public transport corridors to stimulate high-density residential and commercial developments linked to knowledge, education and health hubs drew unanimous support - as did a call to lift investments and incentives to attract new airlines and routes to airports, and a plan to boost tourism in Moreton Bay and its islands.

There is strong support, too, for fast-tracking a robotics cluster and hubs of other "future" industries.