Incoming Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack has nominated a cut to Tasmanian road funding as one of the Federal Coalition Government’s biggest achievements.
In Question Time today I asked Mr McCormack why his Government’s own Budget papers show Federal infrastructure investment in Tasmania will decline from $174 million this financial year to $53 million in 2019-20.
I also asked why there had been no Federal Government funding for a single new major rail or road project in the State in nearly five years.
Mr McCormack ignored my question and pointed to the upgrade of Tasmania’s Midland Highway as evidence of his Government’s commitment to nation building.
But what he failed to point out was that as soon as the Coalition took office in 2013, it cut funding that the former Labor Federal Government had provided for the Midland Highway from $500 million to $400 million.
Mr McCormack also named the Tasmanian Freight Revitalisation Program as another of the Coalition’s achievements, despite the program having been devised and funded by the former Federal Labor Government.
Mr McCormack, who succeeded Barnaby Joyce in the Infrastructure and Transport portfolio this week, is clearly ignorant of his Government’s cuts. Rather than admit this, he sought to defend the indefensible.
The new Minister must get across the detail, use his newfound authority to reverse the cuts and provide Tasmania with the infrastructure investment it requires and deserves.