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Roads minister under pressure

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m JAl waS? DAVID H a w k e r : Federal M ember for Wannon Shadow Minister for Land Transport M e d i a R e l e a s e

21 April 1991


In a desperate attempt to salvage the Special Premiers Conference the Government is now planning to hand over major parts of road funding to the States and Local Government, according to Shadow Minister for Land Transport, David Hawker.

There is now strong speculation that as other transport reforms such as heavy truck charging and interstate rail freight bog down in never ending delays, Labor has grabbed hold of road f u s i n g as a face saver. Plans are in place in Canberra for the handing over to the States of the $530 million Arterial Road Program. Likewise, the $324 million Local Road Program is expected to be

absorbed in General Purpose Grants to Local Government. The question now is where will the States raise the money for this.

The expected decision to announce this at the SPC on May 22nd shows just how much the Minister for Land Transport, Bob Brown, has been frozen out by Cabinet and the Prime Minister. It is understood that the PM was furious with Brown over the Automobile

Club's successful road funding campaign before the last election and equally, less than impressed with Brown's interference in the NRMA election late last year. Now the Prime Minister is

preparing to take road funding decisions away from the Land Transport Minister and give them back to the States. This

follows the Minister's attempt to centralise road funding decisions and turn roads into a pork barrelling exercise through his amendments to the Centennial Roads Development Bill last December. So concerned was NSW Premier, Nick Griener with this move that he had to write to the PM expressing his alarm.

The speculation is now starting around Canberra that Brown may be the first casualty in the next Ministry reshuffle because of his failure to get results with Land Transport reform. Last week the Caucus Transport Committee was reported as being hig y

critical of the Minister for his failure to offer sufficient funds to the National Rail Freight Corporation to get it started by the promised date of July 1st.

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For further information contact Janice Wykes after^2:30pm on 06 - 288 3946 or David Hawker after 4:00pm on 055 72 1100.