Tony Abbott must clarify his intentions on funding of major road projects amid chaos among his Ministers over the future of the Commonwealth’s multi-billion dollar capital works program.
It is becoming clear the Coalition is clueless on road funding after Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs gave contradictory answers on consecutive days to questions about funding arrangements for a series of road projects in Tasmania.
Asked yesterday whether the government would honour previously approved contributions to Tasmanian road projects including the $500 million Midland Highway Package, the $17.5 million Huon Highway upgrade and the $25.6 million Brooker Highway upgrading, Mr Briggs said:
The projects were not properly funded by Labor as they were paid for out of a mining tax that didn’t raise any money.
Hobart Mercury, 26 November, 2013
That’s just factually wrong.
In fact, the projects were to be funded out of general revenue under Labor’s Nation Building program. The money is in the Budget.
This morning Mr Briggs went into damage control, telling ABC radio in Hobart that all money in the Budget forward estimates for Tasmanian roads would be honoured.
But that’s what Mr Briggs said recently about funding for critical safety upgrades in West Australia, only to be slapped down by his boss, Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss, who told Parliament last week that no money had been allocated.
It’s clear these ministers are making it up as they go along.
It is incredible that after more than two months in office, Mr Briggs has such a poor grasp of the facts in his portfolio.
And it is even more incredible that the government is still unable to provide funding certainty to communities across the nation expecting road upgrades.
Upgrading roads improves road safety, provides jobs in the construction sector and increases the nation’s economic productivity, which in turn creates more jobs.
People are entitled to conclude that after focusing so much on negativity in Opposition, the Coalition has come to office with no plan for our nation’s roads.