Shadow Minister for Main Roads and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, says the LNP is still trying to airbrush from history that more than a decade of underfunding of the Bruce Highway by the Howard Government when the National Party held the purse strings for roadworks.
Mr Pitt said as usual the LNP was providing a misleading and slanted picture of funding for the Bruce Highway.
“In particular, the LNP has conveniently forgotten its own federal National Party leader Warren Truss who as a Transport Minister in the Howard Government allocated an average of $100 million a year for the Bruce Highway,” he said.
“This compares with federal Labor Government’s contributions averaging $500 million a year since 2007.
“So if the LNP wants to be honest, it should say that any ‘crisis’ is the result of its own party’s chronic underfunding of the highway over more than a decade.
“If the LNP wants to point the finger of blame, it needs to point it at one of its own.”
Mr Pitt said the previous Labor state governments provided around $114 million a year for the past 10 years on top of funds from the federal government.
“While the LNP speaks of a ‘crisis’ it will spend just 1% or $10 million this year out of its promised $1 billion for the Bruce Highway,” he said.
“In the next financial year there will be only another $10 million, yet by comparison this year’s LNP Budget found $17 million for roadworks in the Premier’s electorate of Ashgrove in Brisbane.
“The LNP State Budget also managed to find $3.5 million just to start planning the Premier’s new Executive Building.
“The fact is more and more people are realising you can’t trust a word the LNP says, especially when it comes to its policies for regional Queensland.
“I’ve said all along that the LNP’s ‘magical mystery tour’ of the Bruce Highway would produce by-and-large the same projects as identified under the previous Government’s 20 year Bruce Highway Strategy and that’s what we’ve seen.
“This whole process has been a cynical exercise to blame federal Labor if they don’t provide the funding, otherwise the recent state budget would’ve seen the LNP put some real money on the table like they claimed they would before the election.”
Mr Pitt said he will continue to speak to his federal counterparts about the road projects in Far North Queensland that need attention but said it would be based on real funding commitments, not Monopoly money like the LNP.
“A $5 million promise for planning of an Innisfail Bypass over 10 years will not amount to road construction and there’s still a question mark over whether the bypass is required, and what other safety-related projects may be more important in the shorter term such as passing lanes,” Mr Pitt said.
“The Department of Transport and Main Roads is preserving a bypass corridor, the department’s own modelling indicates it will be roughly about 20 years before the bypass is required.
“While I share concerns about heavy traffic using the current highway through the town I am also mindful that a bypass will have economic impacts on many businesses so there is a need for broad community consultation.
“I am on the record in August 2009 calling for traffic lights to be placed at the intersection of the Bruce Highway and Munro Street, Babinda.
“Babinda is a busy town with a high volume of traffic needing access to the highway, including five school buses and heavy vehicles. Babinda also has an ageing population with many pedestrians finding it challenging to cross the highway.
“Since July 2009 I’ve been saying that plans for four-laning the Bruce Highway south of Edmonton through to Gordonvale must be brought forward.
“Petersen Road south to Gordonvale has been identified as the last remaining land in the Cairns area with few natural constraints. This is where around 50,000 new residents will come to live in the next 15 years or so and it is important to get on the front foot and have this vital infrastructure in place.”
“I was also the only candidate at the recent state election to support stages two and three of the Cairns Bruce Highway upgrade instead of pie-in-the-sky second corridor options, so I am extremely heartened by the LNP’s back flip to suddenly see common sense.”