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The Liberal National Party overnight promised $750 million towards the $1.15 billion Petrie to Kippa Ring rail line in a bid to neutralise Prime Minister Julia Gillard's promise that Labor would build the long-awaited 12.6 kilometre rail line to Redcliffe.
That effectively means bayside commuters will get a new rail line by 2016 regardless of which party wins the federal election on August 21.
It also re-opens the fight among the two major parties for Southeast Queensland's three bayside marginal seats, Petrie (ALP), Longman (ALP) and Dickson (LNP).
Prime Minister Julia Gillard set the cat among the pigeons yesterday, announcing a re-elected Labor government would tip $742 million into a plan involving three levels of government to build the rail line with six new stations at a cost of $1.15 billion.
The much-promised project would be well received in three marginal seats the rail line would run through; Dickson, held marginally by the LNP's Peter Dutton (0.08 per cent) and Labor's Petrie (4.2 per cent) and Longman (1.9 per cent), held by Yvette D'Arth and Jon Sullivan.
Anna Bligh's Labor Queensland Government promised $300 million and the Moreton Bay Regional Council will fund $105 million.
A joint statement from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Shadow Transport spokesman Warren Truss's promising to build the rail line put the issue back on a level-playing field.
"A Coalition government will deliver the Moreton Bay Rail Link," the statement said.
"A Coalition government will invest $750 million towards major construction works on this project.
"This funding will be made available from AusLink 3, commencing in 2014-15."
The timing of the Coalition's funding is the same as the promise yesterday by Ms Gillard, using new funding from Auslink 3, but after the 2013 federal election.
The Premier's Department would not comment on whether its $300 million promise would be made if the Coalition won office.
A Premier's Department spokeswoman said without the support of the local and state governments, the Coalition's plan had a $400 million black hole.
However the Coalition said it would negotiate the contributions from the Queensland Government and the Moreton Bay Regional Council
"We note that the Moreton Bay Regional Council has committed $105 million towards the project although we do not believe that local government should be expected to make such a contribution to the project," the joint statement read.
"An elected Coalition Government will negotiate with the State Government of Queensland and with the Moreton Bay Regional Council about their contribution to the project."
Moreton Bay mayor Allan Sutherland last night was delighted both major parties backed the project.
"I think it is great that everybody has now recognised the importance of this," he said.
"The more on board the better."
However he said he believed the State Government should contribute.
"Well that is the (Infrastructure Australia) agreement that we have signed off on, but there is still a shortfall of $100 million if we don't contribute," Cr Sutherland said.
He said the project was modelled on the Gold Coast Rapid Transit project - mentioned by Ms Bligh at yesterday's announcement - where three governments contributed.
Cr Sutherland said he was unsure if the funds had been allocated under Infrastructure Australia agreements. But he said he believed all levels of government should contribute.
"I think everybody will stick to the agreement and why shouldn't they?" he said.
"The State Government and the Federal Government have shown a lot of backbone in stepping up to the plate on this."
The LNP's candidate for Petrie, Dean Teasdale, a Deception Bay businessman who fumbled for an answer about the project on radio yesterday, last night also backed the project.
"I don't think our position has changed since the statement I made this morning, Labor should not be making these big spending commitments," Mr Teasdale said.
He disagreed the LNP's promise was effectively the same as the ALP.
"We are also identifying $47 billion in savings in the budget as well," he said.
"Labor just keeps going on spending without identifying where they will identify $47 billion in savings. That is the difference."
He said the rail line was very important and would be well received.
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