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The Sunshine Coast rail extension will come down to the wire, as new details reveal construction will likely still be taking place in 2030 just prior to the Olympics.
The big money for the project will not start flowing until 2025-26, but the timing means it can brook no delays or it risks not being finished in time for the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games.
But the Coalition say they will fast-track it to get it done sooner if the State comes on board, but Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey accused the government of “fake funding”.
Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher is urging the state government to commit to the Sunshine Coast rail extension. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images
It was one of three major infrastructure projects promised at the Coalition’s budget last week.
The $2.4 billion Gold Coast Rail upgrade, between Beenleigh and Kuraby, is on track for construction to start from late next year and to be done four years in advance of the Games.
Money for business cases associated with the Olympics will start flowing from later this year.
There is $50 million set aside for the Sunshine Coast rail in 2024, which would be for early works, with significant sums not starting until 2025-26 when $200 million will be released with greater amounts coming in the years after that until 2030.
Opposition infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King said even on current forecasts the project would not be done until 2030 and warned delays were not uncommon.
“With the Olympics only 10 years away, there’s no time to waste,” she said.
“When the Brisbane Olympics are starting, nobody is going to remember the trumped up headlines the Prime Minister got on Budget night in 2022, all people are going to care about is if the infrastructure Queenslanders need actually got built on time.”
Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said the timing of the payments was aligned to expected timing of construction, but urged the State Government to commit to the project.
“The Commonwealth wants this project delivered as soon as possible and certainly prior to the Olympics,” he said.
“For this to be achieved, the Queensland Government needs to come to the table and commit to this project.”
Fairfax MP Ted O’Brien, who has been driving the campaign for the rail with Fisher MP Andrew Wallace, said if the state agreed to fast-track the rail the Commonwealth would bring forward the funding.
“Ten years until the 2032 Games might seem like a long time, but we don’t have a moment to lose, especially when it comes to building big infrastructure projects like rail to Maroochydore,” he said.
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey. NewsWire/Sarah Marshall
Mr Bailey said the State Government was committed to the Caloundra and Maroochydore rail corridor, but were prioritising the $6 million business case first.
“The Morrison Government is making it difficult to work together on (Caloundra and Maroochydore Corridor Options Study) when it pulls election stunts like this fake funding announcement,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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