Apr 05, 2019

Anger over Federal ‘rain check’ on regional road funds

Anger over Federal ‘rain check’ on regional road funds

Civil contractors are calling for Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch to ‘show us the money’ and explain when promised funds for regional projects will be delivered.

It comes in the lead-up to the inaugural North Queensland Civil Construction Association (NQCCA) conference, to be held in Cairns this weekend.

The group said Mr Entsch recently announced $700 million in funding for roads in the Leichhardt electorate including:

  • Cairns Southern Access Corridor – $180 million
  • Cairns Ring Road – $287 million
  • Cairns to the Northern Territory border – $50 million
  • Cooktown to Weipa – $190 million

These projects are part of a $2.6 billion Queensland road spend announced in Tuesday night’s budget that also includes other key regional road projects such as $144 million for the Townsville Ring Road, stage five.

While these headline figures are positive for the regions,
NQCCA president Phil Cassell said the amount of funds committed in the forward estimates was of concern.

“No funds are committed for these projects in 2018/19 and 2019/20. In 2020/21 only $5m of the $2.6b for Queensland is committed with $105m in 2021/22 and $203m in 2022/23,” Mr Cassell said. “In terms of a commitment, that is far less investment in local infrastructure than we expect.

“In the meantime, a federal election is expected to be called on Monday (April 8). Mr Entsch would be unable to deliver in opposition and there’s a real chance he may lose his seat.”

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad this week complained of Queensland being shortchanged in the federal Budget, saying that $2.6 billion more had been promised on infrastructure statewide – but $2.3 billion of that was more than four years down the track.

NQCCA president Phil Cassell.

Mr Entsch is the keynote speaker at this weekend’s NQCCA conference, where Mr Cassell said organisers had set a high bar for him to step up to in support of local civil contractors.

“We are expecting the local member to act like a local member and say, ‘this is not good enough’,” Mr Cassell said. “We not only want the funding secured, we want local operators invited to tender for the work. In the past it was standard practise to invite solely southern contractors to major works.

“Civil contracting is among the largest contributors to the local economy as outlined in a recent Cummings Economics report. It is too important to be left to hollow announcements.” 

  • The NQCCA conference is being held from 9am Saturday at Jones Park Leagues Club, Mann St, Westcourt. MORE HERE

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