The Turnbull Government has confirmed what most Queenslanders already knew – that it has failed to invest a single extra dollar on the upgrade of the Bruce Highway since it took office in 2013.
Indeed, despite its promises of extra investment during the 2013 election campaign, Bruce Highway funding has gone backwards under the Coalition.
Last week Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester produced a list of completed, continuing and planned projects on the Bruce Highway to prove his claim that the Coalition had invested more in the Bruce Highway upgrade than the previous Labor Government.
However, a check of Mr Chester’s list shows all of the projects except one were funded in Budgets of the previous Labor Government.
The only exception was the Arnot Creek Bridge, near Ingham, a $10 million project announced in February.
However, the value of the Arnot Creek project is dwarfed by the Coalition’s $143 million cut to Bruce Highway funding in the 2015 Budget over what had been allocated in the 2014 Budget.
Mr Chester’s admission exposes once and for all that the Coalition has taken a go-slow approach to the Bruce Highway upgrade.
The cuts should come as no surprise, given that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show public sector investment in infrastructure fell by 20 per cent between the September quarter of 2013 and the September quarter of 2015.
The Coalition’s cuts on the Bruce also fit in with its long-term record, with the Howard Government’s investment of $1.3 billion on the Bruce Highway in nearly 12 years exceeded by the $5.7 billion commitment by the Labor Government over the subsequent six years.
That’s four times the money in half the time.
Given Mr Chester’s admission, voters should be very wary of any fresh Coalition promises on the Bruce Highway in coming months.
Queenslanders would be better off heeding the views of the straight-talking Liberal Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, who conceded in 2011:
I’ll give Labor a pat on the back and say they have spent more in their four to five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before.
Ewen Jones, Townsville Bulletin, 5 March, 2011
Only a Shorten Labor Government will get on with this critical highway upgrade.
NOTE TO REPORTERS
To access Labor’s 2013 funding for Bruce Highway upgrade projects: http://bit.ly/1IFFJVa
To access Mr Chester’s list of claimed new Bruce Highway projects: http://bit.ly/1MUUBGd
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.