Nationals’ MP for Cowper Luke has been caught out deliberately misleading his own community with invented claims about imaginary threats to the $1.75 billion Roads to Recovery program.
Late in March Mr Hartsuyker told the Clarence Valley Daily Examiner that if Labor did not back the Abbott Government’s new Land Transport Infrastructure Bill, the Roads to Recovery program and its grants to councils for road works, would end on June 30.
“The program will cease to exist,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
As Labor said at the time, Mr Hartsuyker’s claims were wrong. June 30 came and went last week with no end to the Roads to Recovery program, which the previous Labor Government funded fully in our 2013 Budget.
The Land Transport Infrastructure Bill, designed to strike from the statue books the term nation building, which the Coalition associates with Labor, has no effect on funding Roads to Recovery.
And despite Mr Hartsuyker’s claim that it was critical that Bill had to pass before June 30 to rescue Roads to Recovery, the Government did not even bother to list it for debate in the Senate before that date.
If the Government believed its own rhetoric, then surely it would have listed the Bill for debate in the Senate anytime between March, when the legislation passed the House of Representatives, and June 30.
They did not allocate even one minute for debate, meaning they either knew there claims were false, or didn’t care if Roads to Recovery was discontinued.
Mr Hartsuyker was trying to deceive his own community and the media and should apologise.
While this deceit might have served Mr Hartsuyker’s crude political motives, the real effect was to have caused unnecessary fear about the future of Roads to Recovery.
The only real threat to road funding in rural and regional Australia comes from the Abbott Government’s 2014 Budget, which slashed $1 billion cut in Financial Assistance Grants to councils over the next three years.
In the absence of those grants, which councils also use on roads, the nation’s councils will have to either reduce road maintenance or lift council rates.