Civil contractors have received a Federal commitment on northern road funding after raising concerns about the proportion of project cash being budgeted years down the track.
North Queensland Civil Construction Association (NQCCA) president Phil Cassell said the group had been completely satisfied with the reponses of Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack since the matter was raised at the time of its inaugural conference in Cairns this month.
“We received a letter (on Friday) from the Deputy PM saying that if the State Government can bring the projects forward then the Federal Government will bring the funding forward,” he said.
“The forward estimates in the Budget don’t accurately depict operational budgets year to year.”
The group is now calling on political stakeholders to work together to ensure a smooth roll-out of infrastructure works in the Far North.
Mr Enstch said the government would definitely deliver the congestion-busting Captain Cook Highway upgrades, Peninsula Development Road – Stage Two, Gulf Savannah Way and Hann Highway upgrades.
“I worked very closely with the former State Member for Cook David Kempton when the initial PDR funding was made available to ensure local tier 2/3 contractors could bid for work instead of the entire project being eaten up by a larger contractor,” he said.
“We were very successful in creating a model to ensure all work on the PDR was allocated to local tier 2/3 contractors, including many indigenous businesses.
“This model has now been adopted right across Northern Australia, including current works along the Cairns Southern Access Corridor and Hann Highway to name just a few.
“Lastly, the Australian Government funds roads, they do not build them. That responsibility falls solely with the Queensland Government.
“Unfortunately, despite funding 80 per cent of major road projects, the Commonwealth Government cannot dictate to the Queensland Government when works will be done or the timeframe in which they must be done.
“When the scoping, planning, design works, tenders and preferred contractor is finalised, and the Queensland Government is ready to proceed with these projects, the Commonwealth funding will be immediately made available and reflected in the respective budget or MYFEO.”
Budget funding commitments in the Leichhardt electorate included the Cairns Southern Access corridor – $180 million, Cairns Ring Road – $287 million, Cairns to the NT border works – $50 million, and Cooktown to Weipa – $190 million, the NQCCA said.
It had raised concerns that much of that funding was part of forward estimates, with much of it committed to be spent as far out as 2024.
With an election now slated for May 18, Mr Cassell said the NQCCA had approached the ALP and Katter’s Australian Party to confirm their commitments regarding road funding in the region.
“I’m not going to let them off the hook. I have an obligation to our members to follow it through and that’s what I’ll do,” he said.
“It is for the benefit of these regional economies.”