Southside families are spending longer in congestion on local roads

By Terri Butler MP

24 October 2019

South-side families in Brisbane are spending longer in their cars and less time with their families under the Morrison government. When I talk to local families, there is a real sense of frustration. There is frustration that the daily grind of traffic to and from work, to and from after-school sports, to and from music lessons and even to and from the shops is taking longer and longer, with no end in sight. South-side families have been thinking to themselves, 'If only we had government that could relate to the daily challenges we face, a government that actually listened to us.' As it turns out, south-side families have a lot more time to ponder this issue on their extended commute to and from work.

The latest data from the HILDA Survey shows that Australia's capital cities are dealing with longer commutes, with an average of 66 minutes each day, and there is no sign of things getting better. But in question time this week the government again failed to answer numerous questions about its failures on infrastructure policy. The Morrison government continues to ignore and deny Reserve Bank advice to fast-track infrastructure investment to stimulate the economy. In its first five budgets, the Liberal government underspent on infrastructure by $5.1 billion. Scott Morrison needs to urgently bring forward infrastructure spending to boost the sluggish economy. There is no better example of this government's preference for hot air ahead of action than the fact they spent $17 million on taxpayer-funded advertising on congestion busting in the lead-up to this year's election but did not spend a single cent from the Urban Congestion Fund in 2018-19.

People in my electorate, just like those in inner-suburban communities across Australia, have had enough. The so-called quiet Australians are quite angry. The roads in major cities across Australia are paved with broken promises and empty words on road and public transport infrastructure from this tired, third-term Liberal government. Instead of empty slogans like, 'Hand up, hand out,' or 'How good is Scomo?' or 'Have a go, you get a go,' locals want some substance to replace the incessant spin from this government. South-siders want action.

The point of government is to make people's lives better. This should be self-evident, but it doesn't seem to be to the Morrison government. People on the south side of Brisbane are wondering, 'What is the point of this government?' Under this Prime Minister, the economy has stalled, family incomes are stagnant and small businesses are hurting, all while childcare, electricity and health costs are skyrocketing. It is a real struggle for people. Ministers in this government need to step away from their desks in Sydney and Melbourne, put down their media releases, grab a shovel and get to work. This government is now in its seventh year and third term, and it has no plan for the economy and no plan for congestion, which gets worse with every minute of inaction. Unfortunately, everywhere you look with this government, they are asleep at the wheel. Thanks to this government, families are spending longer in congestion on local roads.

Queenslanders—Queensland families, Queensland workers—have been left out in the cold under the Morrison government. They have a Prime Minister trying to sell them a Ferrari during his media appearances and then dudding families with a Holden Gemini from the policy scrap yard on delivery. The problem with this Prime Minister is you can't believe a word he says about infrastructure, because you cannot believe him on any issue. He is always seeking to evade questions. He is always loose with the truth, short on solutions and long on spin.

And there is not just a cost to our precious time with our families; there is a real economic cost to inaction, to not tackling congestion. Infrastructure Australia's report says not only that Brisbane's congestion is getting worse but that increasing congestion in our cities is now costing the economy $4.7 billion. Good roads and reliable, accessible public transport are an economic investment in productivity. But, most importantly, investment in infrastructure is an investment in the quality of life for locals. Unfortunately, the Morrison government's sloganeering is back to front. They are actually building congestion through inaction, and they are busting infrastructure investment through empty slogans and economic uncertainty. South-side families are paying the price.

Southside families, I hear you. I share your frustration with this do-nothing government that has no plan to address any of the real and everyday frustrations that you confront on a daily basis. I have heard you loud and clear. South-side families, south-side workers, south-side pensioners—they are all talking to me about the daily struggle that is being faced on the south side. We need real investment. We need genuine congestion busting. It is time that the Morrison government got out from behind their desks, picked up a shovel and started to deliver for south-side families.