The Main Roads and Transport Minister has refused to answer a question by Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP in State Parliament on claims by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate that China Rail is purchasing the company operating the Gold Coast light rail.
“Mayor Tate has been openly telling people on the Gold Coast that he has been in China negotiating the sale of GoldLinQ to China Rail, but when I asked the Minister today he avoided the question,” Dr Douglas said.
“The Minister did however say that the growth of patronage of the light rail was disappointing and well below the estimates provided by the former Labor Government before the rail was constructed,” Dr Douglas said.
“Whilst he blamed this on Labor, he said the LNP government would work with anyone who will honour existing contracts.
“It seems that where Tom Tate and transparency are involved, it’s the epitome of an oxymoron.
“With Parliament wrapping up tomorrow, I wanted a straight answer from the Minister about what is really going on with GoldLinQ and deals with the Chinese on the Gold Coast.
“By the time Parliament resumes, Tom Tate could have well delivered an early fortune for the Chinese New Year and the year of the goat.
“Does anyone think that it is strange that Mayor Tate is selling a joint local/state/federal Government owned asset and the responsible Minister either does not know nor care that a newly built $1.3 billion transport system in Australia’s tourist capital is being flogged off earlier than our ports, energy generators and power networks ? The year of the goat indeed?”
Here is the Hansard transcript:
Dr DOUGLAS: My question is to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, has publicly stated at a meeting of southern Gold Coast business owners that he had just returned from China negotiating the proposed sale of GoldLinQ—operators of the Gold Coast light rail—to China rail, and I ask: can the minister inform the parliament regarding details of the prospective purchase by China Rail of GoldLinQ, the operators of Gold Coast light rail, funded by state taxpayers?
Mr EMERSON: I thank the member for Gaven for the question. In terms of GoldLinQ, they have an ongoing contract with us as part of a PPP to provide services. That contract was signed prior to us coming to office. All those obligations continue in terms of GoldLinQ providing Gold Coast light rail.
Since light rail commenced we have seen strong numbers but not as strong as indicated. The business case first put forward by Labor was a flawed business case. They were forecasting figures of more than 40,000. Each day we are seeing figures of 20,000 at the moment. It is still early days. Clearly that contract is in place, no matter who the owner is, to provide that service. There are very clear obligations in that contract. The owner, whoever they are, is obliged to provide maintenance, equipment and services on an ongoing basis as part of the agreement signed, as I said, before we came to office. We will keep them in place.
In terms of public transport on the Gold Coast, not just the light rail, I point out that since we have come to office we have increased peak morning and peak afternoon services on the Gold Coast heavy rail line. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services. As you know, before we came to office many people on the Gold Coast would have been very much aware, including members on the Gold Coast such as the member for Coomera, who travelled with me on the Gold Coast heavy rail from the Gold Coast to Brisbane, of the ‘Bombay Express’. Again, since we have come to office we have worked to increase services on the Gold Coast line—a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services.
All of those travellers on the Gold Coast have also benefited from our historic cut to public transport fares—a five per cent cut statewide. It is the first time any government in Queensland history has cut public transport fares. That is on top of, of course, the fact that Queensland Rail services are now running the most reliable on-time services ever in their almost 150-year history and are now the most reliable on-time running services of any metro system in—
Dr DOUGLAS: Madam Speaker, I rise to a point of order.
Madam SPEAKER: Pause the clock. What is your point of order?
Dr DOUGLAS: I asked if the minister could provide detail of the prospective—
Madam SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
Dr DOUGLAS: Relevance, Madam Speaker.
Madam SPEAKER: The minister has time on the clock. I remind members when they are putting a point of order to actually put the point of order, not to debate the question they have already asked. I call the minister.
Mr EMERSON: As I was saying, there are extra services on the Gold Coast and Queensland Rail is now the most reliable metro rail system in Australia. Since coming to office, not just in terms of rail but also in terms of public buses, we have put on an additional 3,000 bus and train weekly services. So we have dealt with the mess left to us by Labor in terms of fares, made services more reliable and also put more services on across public transport.