Plans for high speed rail between Brisbane and the Gold Coast are being developed.
Plans for high speed rail between Brisbane and the Gold Coast are being developed.

‘Ambitious’ plan for southeast forges ahead

WORK on an ambitious plan to guide southeast Queensland's successful growth over the next two decades will ramp up within weeks.

Political leaders from federal and state governments and local councils are expected to get together in July to begin thrashing out the details of a City Deal agreement for the rapidly-growing region.

The series investigated the opportunities and challenges facing the southeast corner over the coming quarter of a century with the population forecast to soar from 3.5 million to 5.5 million in 2043.

A City Deal will deliver tens of billions of dollars of public transport and congestion-busting road projects, investment in industries of the future, better planned and more affordable housing and protection of the region's enviable lifestyle.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed to the concept in March after receiving the TransformingSEQ blueprint developed by the Palaszczuk Government and the SEQ Council of Mayors.

A statement of intent was signed by all three levels of government in March.

The re-election of the Morrison Government and federal Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge's elevation to Cabinet last week will give it extra impetus.

Minister for Cities Alan Tudge. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Minister for Cities Alan Tudge. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

"This will be the most ambitious city deal that we have undertaken to date," Mr Tudge told The Couier-Mail.

"It will begin with some detailed consultations with stakeholders across the region to understand the ideas as to how SEQ should be shaped over the next 10 to 20 years. We will then proceed to detail out the precise commitments from each of the levels of government."

Mr Tudge said based on previous city deals, that was likely to take up to 12 months or so, but the "excellent work'' already done by the Council of Mayors and State Government could be leveraged to speed up the process.

The leadership group of Mr Tudge, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and SEQ Council of Mayors chairman, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner are expected to meet next month (July).

"Delivering a City Deal for southeast Queensland is a key priority for the Palaszczuk Government, and I want to ensure the deal delivers better transport and more jobs," Ms Trad said.

Cr Schrinner said: The message we hear from our communities is that they want governments that can work together to deliver real outcomes."

The "FutureSEQ" push for a rapid rail network to enable passengers to travel between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba in 45 minutes or less was supported in the federal Budget with $14.5 million to create a National Faster Rail Agency from July to identify and support the development of fast train connections between capital cities and key regional centres.

The Brisbane to Gold Coast route was among five to be allocated money from a $40 million fund to develop businesses cases for faster rail.

A previously-funded business case for North Coast Connect - the Brisbane to Sunshine Coast project - is expected to be complete within weeks and work is underway on a study of the Brisbane to Toowoomba corridor.

A feasibility study commissioned by the SEQ Council of Mayors and released in February, found there is a "compelling" case for the region to bid for the 2032 Olympic Games.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach encouraged the interest when he visited last month and promised the event could be staged cost-neutral.

Public support statewide has risen from 56 per cent to 65 per cent since October, and the Morrison Government has promised $10 million towards a bid. The State Government has not yet committed but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she was inspired by her meeting with Dr Bach and will hold further discussions with Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates next week.

In a resounding success, various levels of government have undertaken to address most of the 20 action points.

A dozen of them are reflected in the TransformingSEQ blueprint for a City Deal, including rail, Metro, roads and tunnels to ease gridlock; boosting digital connectivity and boosting innovation precincts and advanced manufacturing; better planning a residential communities and wider choice of home styles; a new tripartite board to co-ordinate regional strategy and a liveability fund to improve recreational and open space.

The Courier-Mail's major new series, "Future Tourism" - exploring how to maximise the potential of this crucial sector across the state - will launch on Friday.