May 22, 2014

Abbott breaks promise to duplicate Midland Highway, cuts funding

Tony Abbott has broken his promise to fully duplicate the Midland Highway in Tasmania and slashed $100 million of existing funding from the project.

Before the election Tony Abbott promised that the Coalition Government would fully duplicate the Midland Highway in Tasmania.

He also insisted that it could be done for just $400 million despite it being a multi-billion dollar project.

JOURNALIST: The question was how far would you expect $400 million to go out of a 200 kilometre highway?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, my understanding is that there’s 120 kilometres that is yet to be duplicated. My understanding is that on standard construction costs, it should be possible to complete the duplication with $400 million.

JOURNALIST: State government says about $2 billion.

TONY ABBOTT: Well my understanding is that the $2 billion estimate is for a completely new road and we’re not proposing a completely new road. We are proposing a very substantial upgrade; that’s what we’re proposing and we believe on standard road construction costs that it’s doable for $400 million.

But when asked today if $400 million would be enough to fully duplicate the Midland Highway he said:

TONY ABBOTT: It will certainly make a pretty big difference. I hope it will. In the end, this is the kind of thing we will be working in partnership with the Tasmanian Government to achieve. It is our objective to get the highway duplicated the Launceston whole way between Hobart and Launceston and that $400 million is going to make an enormous contribution towards that.

Tony Abbott has walked away from his commitment to Tasmanians to duplicate the Midland Highway.

Worse still, he has cut $100 million of existing funding for this project that was already allocated in the 2013-14 Budget by the former Labor Government.

The former Labor Government allocated $500 million to the funding of the Midland Highway in the 2013-14 Budget.

The 2014-15 Coalition Government Budget shows a $100 million cut to this funding.

Mr Abbott has also cut every dollar of funding for the planning of Hobart’s Light Rail project and his commitment to reduce local government funding for local roads will hit Tasmanian councils hard.

Today the Prime Minister tried to hide these sweeping cuts by reannouncing another former Labor Government project fully funded in the 2013-14 Federal Budget, the $25.6 million upgrade of the Brooker Highway.

Every Tasmanian can see through Tony Abbott’s infrastructure con.

It’s about time he came clean with Tasmanians and admitted that his only infrastructure plan is cuts and broken promises.

Once again, when it comes to infrastructure the Abbott Government has no new ideas and no new investment.

Since taking office the Abbott Government has re-announced literally dozens of Labor projects in an attempt to build credibility on infrastructure.

When Labor took office in 2007, Australia was ranked 20th in the OECD in terms of infrastructure development as a proportion of GDP.

Because of Labor’s record investment in infrastructure, Australia now ranks 1st.