New Infrastructure and Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce must ensure there is no further delay and commit to investing in Brisbane’s Cross River Rail.
The fact is that the people of Queensland voted for Cross River Rail at the November election when they re-elected the Palaszczuk Labor Government.
The project will not only provide a second rail crossing of the Brisbane River in the city’s CBD to add to the Merivale Bridge, which is approaching full capacity, but it will also increase the capacity of the rail network throughout south-east Queensland, including the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.
Cross River Rail is a no-brainer.
Approved by the independent Infrastructure Australia in 2012, a joint commitment to deliver the project was then reached with Federal Labor and the Campbell Newman LNP Government in 2013.
Since then it has been subject to the whims of the Federal Coalition Government.
First, Tony Abbott cancelled all funding for public transport projects around the nation, and then Malcolm Turnbull refused to reinstate Commonwealth funding for the Cross River Rail.
Now is the time for Barnaby Joyce to draw a line in the sand and quit playing politics with this vital project.
By funding Cross River Rail now, Barnaby Joyce can show that he is concerned with urban congestion as well as regional roads.
As Deputy Prime Minister he is in a position to show leadership and reverse the drastic decline in infrastructure investment foreshadowed in the Government’s Budget.
According to the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, Commonwealth infrastructure investment, as measured as a percentage of GDP, will halve from 0.4 to 0.2 percent by 2020-21.
The Government is not only slashing funding over the next four years, but has also failed to deliver on the promises made in their first three budgets.
And this year’s Budget will be no different.
Indeed, at Budget time just seven months ago, the Government said it would invest $8 billion in the nation’s road and rail infrastructure in 2017-18.
However, the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) revealed that they will actually invest $7 billion, which represents a $1 billion cut.
That takes the total infrastructure cuts over their first four budgets to $4.8 billion.
If Barnaby Joyce wants to be taken seriously, he must reverse these cuts now and he should start by investing in Cross River Rail