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Labor's Highway robbery pushes Cooroy to Curra upgrade onto the never never

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Labor’s Highway robbery pushes Cooroy to Curra upgrade onto the never never

23rd October, 2012

Motorists’ hopes for a better Bruce Highway any time soon have been dashed, following the confirmation in Senate Estimates that the Gillard Labor Government is demanding a change to the funding share between Federal and State Governments for the Highway, Federal Member for Wide Bay and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Warren Truss said today.

“Previously, up to 80 per cent of funding for Bruce Highway upgrades has been provided by the Federal Government. Labor’s Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, has ditched that deal and will now only offer funding for projects if the Queensland Government provides funds on a dollar for dollar basis,” Mr Truss said.

The Gillard Government has already confirmed that there is no money for construction of the Cooroy to Curra section of the Highway in the current Nation Building funding program which expires on 1 July 2014. Now Labor has confirmed during Senate Estimates hearings that there will be no money for Sections A, C and D of the Cooroy to Curra upgrade even after 2014, unless Queensland pays 50:50. There is also no money for the Bruce Highway among nine projects provided for in the budget contingency reserve covering the next four years.

“The Bruce Highway is part of the national highway network and the Federal Government has traditionally provided the bulk of funding for highway upgrades.

“It is highway robbery for Mr Albanese to now shift the cost of upgrades onto the Queensland Government.

“Mr Albanese knows that the former Bligh Labor Government left Queensland in a financial mess and the State can ill-afford to absorb the extra billions that it will cost to fix the Highway under his proposal.

“Bruce Highway motorists have been left to bear the price of years of Labor’s waste and mismanagement, both federally and in Queensland.

“If Mr Albanese maintains this position then it will be many years before any new work is done to increase the safety and the capacity of the Highway.”

Mr Truss said Mr Albanese has been caught out, telling local media one thing while knowing he had already picked a fight with the State Government to delay funding.

Mr Albanese told ABC Sunshine Coast radio on October 15…”there's a need for more funding for the Bruce Highway and I'm hopeful that soon we'll be able to make announcements in conjunction with the State Government that of course is responsible for the actual management of the highway”

“But the truth is that Gillard Labor Government does not regard the Highway as a priority,” Mr Truss said.

“It has not allocated any new funding to the Bruce Highway, either in its Budget, across the forward estimates, or in its contingency reserve fund. Mr Albanese’s promise of an announcement is just a mirage that will disappear when the Queensland Government rejects his new funding proposal.

“The financial statements make it clear that funding for new Bruce Highway construction projects, including the next sections of the much needed Cooroy to Curra four lane upgrade, is not even on the Gillard Labor Government’s radar. Labor’s funding model is a cruel trick designed to defer funding and delay the work.

“Instead of picking a fight with the State Government, Mr Albanese should be front up and commit funding now for the next stage of the Cooroy to Curra project.”