Feds, state butt heads over vital highway funding
MEMBER for Blair Shayne Neumann has taken aim at the Morrison Government after major projects in Ipswich were overlooked in the 2021-22 federal budget.
Speaking with the Queensland Times on Wednesday, Mr Neumann slammed the lack of funding allocated to city infrastructure as “disappointing,” saying it was a missed opportunity.
Key projects including much-needed upgrades to the Cunningham Hwy between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek, a proposed Springfield-Ipswich rail line and upgrades to the North Ipswich Reserve received no mention in the $1.6 billion spend.
A total of $4 million will go toward the Warrego Highway-Mount Crosby Rd interchange project – making up 80 per cent of its projected $5 million price tag.
“I’m bitterly disappointed in the Government, but not surprised,” Mr Neumann said.
“It really is a disappointing budget, of marketing and mismanagement and missed opportunities in many ways.”
He said the federal government continued to neglect the state’s fastest-growing region, claiming it had prioritised funding to regions that LNP had retained in the previous election.
“One of the things to look at with their infrastructure spend, they’re allegedly spending $1.6 billion in Queensland in seats they want to hold on to from Coolangatta to Cairns,” Mr Neumann claimed.
Doubt was also cast over whether several projects that were allocated funds would ever be complete.
“In some of the projects that we’re talking about, government is going to have to win three elections before we’ll see the funding,” Mr Neumann said.
State Member for Scenic Rim Jon Krause fired back, saying the state government had “broken faith with Ipswich residents time and time again” – referring to the ongoing argument between the feds and state government over the funding split for the project.
“The Cunningham Highway is just one example,” he said.
It comes almost three years on from Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack’s commitment of $170 million to the upgrades.
State Government refused to match the amount, arguing that the estimated $340 million bill should be split 80/20 as it was a national route.
“When the Feds put money on the table in 2018, the Queensland Government shamefully pulled the project off the table,” Mr Krause said.
Mr Krause said state had yet to re-engage with Commonwealth over a funding agreement.
“Instead, the state is doing yet another business case, which in fact is 80 per cent funded by the Federal Government,” he said.
“There is simply no upgrade project for the Feds to fund right now.
“It is beyond time for the state government to get on board with the Feds, hurry up and give them a project to be funded and built.”
It appears, however, the standoff between State and Commonwealth may likely continue for some time.
“The two need to get together to work out the percentage to deliver on this project,” Mr Neumann said in reply.
“I want an outcome here; I want the federal government to put money in the budget.
“How in the world is the State Government going to think the Federal Government is interested when they put no money in the budget towards it.”
Read more stories by Kaitlyn Smith here.