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THIS week, Malcolm Turnbull proved what Queenslanders have known all along – he governs for Sydney, not for the country.
While Sydney is getting billions of dollars for rail, a new airport and housing, Queensland will only receive a paltry number of recycled projects in this Federal Budget.
For all his talk about nation-building and infrastructure, the Federal Government has failed to deliver the funds for projects that Queensland desperately needs.
No project demonstrates his failure more clearly than Cross River Rail.
Cross River Rail is the Palaszczuk Government’s number one infrastructure priority for a reason. It is critical to unlocking capacity in the rail network, not just for Brisbane but for the entire southeast corner.
Almost forty years ago, the only inner-city rail link between our city’s north and south, the Merivale Bridge, was opened.
Since then, our population has been growing rapidly and we are going to reach capacity on our rail network by 2021.
Cross River Rail is the solution to this problem.
It will shape our city for generations to come, getting people home faster, removing the bottleneck through the city and delivering tens of thousands of jobs.
With this Budget, Malcolm Turnbull had the opportunity to prove that he really is the infrastructure Prime Minister. Cross River Rail demonstrates his failure to deliver on this ambition.
The excuses being offered by Malcolm Turnbull about why Cross River Rail has not been funded do not hold up to even minor scrutiny.
This week we have seen the Prime Minister and his ministers lining up to say that the project needs a proven business case.
But the Turnbull Government and Infrastructure Australia both received the rigorous business case nearly a year ago.
That business case included 2000 pages of detailed planning and an independent review by industry experts from Jacobs, KPMG and PwC.
It clearly demonstrates a positive benefit-cost ratio and a clear path to delivering the project.
The fact is that they have been sitting on that business case since June last year.
We have reached out numerous times – both on a departmental and ministerial level – to ask if they needed additional information in the lead up to the Budget and were assured they needed nothing further.
An artist’s impression of Cross River Rail.But at the same time that they were holding up Cross River Rail funding on unfounded claims about its business case, they were providing nearly $800 million for the Metronet rail project in Perth – a project that has no business case at all.
Cross River Rail has been relegated by the Turnbull Government to compete for funds from an over-hyped $10 billion national rail fund.
This might sound like a funding solution but it is really just another delaying tactic.
Of this $10 billion fund only $600 million is even included in the forward estimates, with no money to be allocated until 2019-20 at the earliest.
Queenslanders should not have to wait another two years for the Federal Government to invest in the infrastructure we desperately need.
For all his smooth talk and big ideas Malcolm Turnbull’s Budget delivers the lowest infrastructure spend in 10 years.
Analysis by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia showed that the Budget massively cuts infrastructure investment, with $7.4 billion slashed over the forward estimates and funding as a percentage of general government expenditure falling significantly from 1.55 per cent to just 1.19 per cent.
Queensland needs federal infrastructure investment and the state’s southeast needs Cross River Rail.
The Palaszczuk Government is committed to the Cross River Rail project because we know it means jobs and economic growth from which the entire state will benefit.
Queensland has been badly let down by a Federal Government more interested in politics than people. Queensland deserves better than what Malcolm Turnbull is offering.
Jackie Trad is Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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