QLD BUDGET 08/09:Govt outlines transport funding as Opposition cries foul

By: Jason Whittaker

The Queensland Government is heralding its Budget as a win for transport while the Opposition claims spending will actually decrease

The Queensland Government is heralding its Budget as a win for transport while the Opposition claims spending will actually decrease over the coming year.

Handing down the Bligh Government’s first budget yesterday, Treasurer Andrew Fraser announced $6.9 billion capital works program for Queensland Transport and Main Roads to alleviate traffic congestion.

Main Roads is to receive $2.4 billion for road projects.

The Budget also set aside a further $1.33 billion to be spent on the regional road network, with Fraser saying the Government will complete the Sunshine Motorway upgrade by investing another $32 million on top of the $52 million already spent.

This is backed up by increased expenditure on the Caloundra Road upgrade and the Houghton Highway duplication, Fraser says.

The Treasurer points to a number of so-called "congestion busting moves" by the Government, which includes $254 million to duplicate the Centenary Highway as well as the rail line.

Minister for Main Roads Warren Pitt says the more than $3 billion to be invested in roads will deliver critical infrastructure projects as well as reduce congestion.

"Over the next financial year, $3.235 billion will provide for road improvements and other initiatives across Queensland, as part of the state's continuing infrastructure investment," Pitt says.

Although the majority of the funds will be invested in Main Roads’ capital works program, $682 million will be used by Queensland Motorways Limited, which includes the upgrade to the Gateway Bridge. Local governments will receive $51 million for local rod improvements.

The rest of the funds will be invested in a number of key freight routes, such as $200 million towards the Ipswich Motorway upgrade between Wacol and Darra and $100 million to complete the Ipswich and Logan motorways interchange.

Furthermore, $70 million will be spent upgrading the Pacific Motorway, while almost $21 million will be spent on paving and sealing projects at Roma, Wills Developmental Road and the Diamantina Developmental Road between Windorah and Bedourie.

Yet the Opposition says it is unimpressed by the figures doled out by the Government, arguing transport infrastructure spending has not increased.

Citing budget papers, opposition spokesman on Main Roads Howard Hobbs has criticised a cut in funding under the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme, noting it will drop from $93.6 million to $65.6 million next year.

"The Bligh Labor Government has failed to deliver," he says.

According to the papers, there will also be a budgeted decline in key road projects such as the length of lane rehabilitation, which will fall from 774km to 540km.

Hobbs has also leapt on figures showing the length of resealing works will drop 200km from 4,700 to 4,500.

"Once again we see the Bligh Government racking up over $59 billion in
debt yet we are seeing less action being done to fix our roads."

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