War of words over highway funding
A BIG-RIG ride up the Bruce Highway yesterday gave LNP Main Roads spokesman Mark Robinson a close look at the road's “poor” condition from Rockhampton to Mackay.
Dr Robinson joined truckie Darryn Isaacs in a Schmidt's Livestock Transport semi-trailer for the 340km run along what he called Queensland's most important transport and export link.
He said a lack of rest areas for heavy vehicles, not enough overtaking lanes and long sections of narrow shoulders alongside the road were part of the problem for the notorious stretch, well-known as an accident hotspot.
Dr Robinson attacked the Queensland Government for failing to secure adequate federal funding for the highway, sparking a political clash of words with Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace.
He said a “can-do Queensland Government” would make the highway a priority, ensuring it got its fair share of funding from Canberra.
His claim that more than $300million in highway funding had been cut in recent months prompted Mr Wallace to accuse him of deliberate misleading. The funding, for projects which were deferred as part of the initial response following this year's natural disasters, was reinstated in the recent federal budget.
Dr Robinson said the reinstated money had been shifted from other programs. He said there was no new money in the budget for the Bruce.
Mr Wallace said he was amazed Dr Robinson hadn't initially revealed the $300million in funding taken away from the Bruce Highway had been restored just over a week ago. He said the Gillard government had given an extra $210million in the budget for the Bruce, including $160million for the Townsville Ring Road, $10million for Mackay Ring Road planning and $40million for Yeppen.
“No-one could take the LNP seriously when it came to funding for the Bruce Highway. The Howard government, which included current LNP members, provided the lowest funding ever for the Bruce Highway.”
He said the Gillard government was providing more than 4.5times the annual level of funding of the Howard government.