Mayor has China solution to Redbank Plains rail line
WITH no money likely to be allocated in the State and Federal budgets, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale is set to investigate a partnership with a giant Chinese construction company to get the railway line extension to Redbank Plains built.
Cr Pisasale said he had been given the green light by the State Government to further his plan after meeting with the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) in Beijing recently.
At the meeting Cr Pisasale said he discussed putting together business plans to get infrastructure models in place for projects such as the extension of Springfield Central to Redbank Plains.
"I have spoken to the Treasurer Curtis Pitt about it," Cr Pisasale said.
"I asked that if I put together a business model that works to get the infrastructure built with Chinese investment, would he be interested. He said 'yes'.
"It is up to us to come up with these different models because the people of today should not be paying for the infrastructure of the future."
Under such a scheme an enterprise such as CRCC would build the infrastructure and lease it back to the State Government.
CRCC is a state-owned construction enterprise and one of the world's largest construction and engineering companies.
It has built most of China's rail infrastructure and numerous other rail lines in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Cr Pisasale and the other 11 mayors from south-east Queensland met last year for a strategic planning workshop to guide future infrastructure in the region and lobbying efforts.
The rail extension was one of the items Cr Pisasale put forward as a priority locally, and he pointed to the extension as being a part of the State Government planning study.
"As a significant growth area, this will improve accessibility to public transport, reduce vehicles on the Centenary Hwy and reduce parking demand in the Springfield town centre," he said at the time.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said Cr Pisasale's China plan was "an innovative and creative idea".
"But we want to see more details. The crucial thing is to find the pathway to finance it."
Mr Neumann said he would like to see the Federal Government allocate funding for the rail extension in next week's budget, as outlined in the South-East Queensland Council of Mayors 2017 Federal advocacy document.
"That is at a cost of $150 million to extend the passenger line from Springfield Central to Redbank Plains," Mr Neumann said.
"Redbank Plains is a significant urban growth area and there is a need for a new centre at School Rd for a railway station there and that would improve public transport usage in the western corridor.
"I would like to see a commitment from the Federal Government in the budget."
Public transport advocate Robert Dow said Ipswich City Council should be one of the lead proponents in the funding of the extension.
" Ipswich City Council could show the lead by making some sort of financial commitment to the project in the same way that Moreton Bay council did for the line to Kippa-Ring which was a combination between State, Federal and council," he said.
"They could link that back into future development costs and returns because it certainly increases the value of properties when you have first class public transport."
Mr Dow said that Federal and State funding would also be required.
Cr Pisasale said he agreed with Mr Dow about the need for the extension, but said council did not have the money for it.
"Robert is spot on, but we have to get the right people behind it and the Federal Government has the purse strings to put in infrastructure.
"But they have to stop putting money into marginal seats. Start putting money into growth seats.
"Council does not have that type of money for major infrastructure items.
"We could not afford it. Council collects 3% of all rates and charges, the State Government 16% and the Federal Government 81% - and that should be the breakup.
"We are already doing business studies and looking at funding models
"But for us to fund that we would have to increase the rates, and that is something the pensioners of Ipswich and other ratepayers cannot afford."
Mr Dow said the chances of the Federal Government putting funding in next week's budget was "zero"
But he said Cr Pisasale's idea of Chinese investment had merit.
"The Federal Government is always looking for these innovative funding solutions, so maybe they can come up with some private partnership," he said.