Jun 22, 2010

Mr Macfarlane, haven’t we heard all this before?

Mr Macfarlane, haven’t we heard all this before?

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

June 22 2010

Recently I read an article in which Groom MP Ian Macfarlane was quoted as saying “a Coalition Government will build the Toowoomba Bypass” (Toowoomba Chronicle, 17/06/10). He even gave a date by when it would be completed: 2017.

The article left me with this lingering feeling I’d heard all this before.

A quick check of Hansard confirmed I had. During his very first speech to the Parliament, Mr Macfarlane made this pledge to the community that had just elected him:

“…the antiquated, treacherous and slow road descent from Toowoomba to Brisbane must be upgraded. A new range crossing is on the drawing board, but its completion date must be brought forward to 2005 if our region is going to be given a fair chance to develop.”

Those words were delivered on 26 November 1998 – a date which must still haunt Mr Macfarlane because a decade later when the Howard Government left office work hadn’t even started on the bypass let alone been completed.

In fact no route had been identified, no detailed planning had been done and no funding had been secured.

Despite being a senior minister in the former government, all Mr Macfarlane managed to achieve was the commissioning of a feasibility study which was critical of the merits of the $1.75 billion project and its chances of attracting private sector investors.

Undeterred by these facts and his own past failures, Mr Macfarlane is again promising to build the Toowoomba Bypass and predicting it will only take him seven years to convince the private sector to hand over $1 billion to build a road which his own study found had little prospect of generating a commercial return.

Given they’ve heard all this before, I would suggest to the residents of Toowoomba they’re more likely to see flying pigs than Mr Macfarlane come good on his promise.

A full copy of Mr Macfarlane’s feasibility study can be downloaded from: http://www.nationbuildingprogram.gov.au/publications/reports/