July 17, 2013
The Brisbane Times
An almost $7 billion federal Coalition election pledge to upgrade sections of the Bruce Highway recognises its “critical importance” to Queensland, transport spokesman Warren Truss says.
Mr Truss said the Coalition had struck an agreement with Queensland’s Newman Government to upgrade parts of the highway over a 10-year period.
Proposed works include duplications north of Gympie and south of Carins, as well as ringroads in Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton and planning for other bypasses.
The Coalition has committed $6.7 billion including $2.1 billion over the next four years and $4.6 billion over the following six years.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was in Mackay to unveil the plan with a federal election due in coming months.
“I want to be an infrastructure prime minister should I have that privilege after the coming election,” Mr Abbott said.
“And as I say, on this particular subject, I am much more of a Queenslander than (Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd will ever be.” Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, also in Mackay, explained the difference between Labor’s promises in the four-year estimates and the Coalition plan.
“Labor has $4.1 billion on the table,” he said.
“That $4.1 billion has been sold by them as new funding – it’s not – it is really just the historical level of funding.
“So really the difference between the $6.7 billion that Mr Abbott is offering and what Mr Rudd and Mr Albanese is saying, that is whole lot of new money.
“A big new lick of new money.” A Coalition government would spend $6.7 billion and the Queensland Government $1.8 billion, Mr Truss said.
“This is the biggest investment ever in the Bruce Highway, recognising its critical importance as the link between most of Queensland’s regional cities,” he said.
“From Brisbane to Cairns the Bruce Highway will be safer, faster and less prone to flooding.”
Mr Abbott said the plan was significant investment to improve safety on the notorious, 1600km highway.
“Our plan will fix the Bruce Highway, not just patch it,” he said.
“The Bruce Highway is not only the lifeline of Queensland but it is the gateway to northern Australia.
“This commitment is an integral part of the Coalition’s real action plan for Queensland. We won’t just talk about fixing the Bruce Highway, we will actually do it.” In April, federal transport minister Anthony Albanese announced the government’s plan for the Bruce Highway, with $4.1 billion committed to upgrade works over 10 years.
The government has committed to many of the same projects along the highway, including the bypasses and duplication works.
Mr Albanese said the Coalition’s plan offered less money for the works in the shorter term than the government’s plans.
“It speaks about a large number over 10 years, but it’s actually less money over the coming four years than the current government has committed under our 10-year plan of $2.25 billion, compared with Tony Abbott’s $2.1 billion commitment,” he told 612 ABC Brisbane on Wednesday.
Projects the Coalition has committed to include:
- Cooroy to Curra – completing Section C ($808m)
- Edmonton to Gordonvale duplication ($481m)
- Tiaro flood immunity upgrade ($107m)
- Saltwater Creek upgrade ($103m)
- Rockhampton bypass – plan and preserve ($65m)
- Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 2 ($58m)Ingham to Cardwell range deviation – plan and preserve corridor ($48m)
- Tinana Interchange ($38m)