Campbell Newman has meekly allowed Tony Abbott to rip off Queenslanders by failing to fight the Prime Minister’s diversion of $715 million earmarked for public transport in Brisbane to new toll roads in Sydney and Melbourne.
If Mr Newman had not folded in the face of Mr Abbott’s refusal to invest in the proposed Cross River Rail project, construction of this critical rail project would already be underway, providing thousands of jobs for Queenslanders and a long-term solution to the city’s traffic congestion.
However, Mr Abbott has instead redirected the Federal investment which had been included in the 2013 Budget to projects including Melbourne’s East-West Link toll road.
Documents released last month by the incoming Victorian State Labor Government showed the East-West Link would return only 45 cents in public benefit for every dollar invested.
That’s a poor outcome compared to the Cross River Rail project, which the independent Infrastructure Australia recommended as ready to proceed in its 2012 Infrastructure Priority List.
Indeed, it was rated the best project in the country by Infrastructure Australia.
The figures highlight the absurdity of Mr Abbott’s blanket refusal to fund new public transport and his adherence to a roads-only approach to infrastructure.
They also condemn Mr Newman, who rolled over to Mr Abbott like a puppy seeking a tummy tickle, rather than standing up for Queensland.
Prior to the 2013 federal Budget, Mr Newman and the former Labor Federal Government agreed to contribute $715 million each toward the Cross River Rail, a rail tunnel under the Brisbane CBD and the Brisbane River.
The two governments agreed the project would provide a long-term solution to emerging capacity constraints for the Brisbane rail network and considerably reduce commuting times.
It would also improve capacity to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
However, after taking office, Tony Abbott cancelled all commonwealth investment in public transport that was not already the subject of contracts.
Mr Newman should have stood up for his state.
Instead he stood up for his mate Mr Abbott.
Queensland Premiers of all political stripes have long had a reputation for putting the interests of Queenslanders ahead of their own political alliances.
But Mr Newman, who is now developing plans for a second-rate alternative to the Cross River Rail Project, was more interested in helping Mr Abbott win the 2013 election than he was in reducing traffic congestion in his own home town.
He has failed to release a cost benefit analysis for his second-rate alternative to Cross River Rail, the so-called BaT project, which is dependent upon the sale of essential public assets.
A first-rate state such as Queensland deserves first-rate infrastructure, not a second-rate fallback plan.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.