Jul 6, 2010

Warren Watch: Nationals leader telling porkies… again

Warren Watch: Nationals leader telling porkies… again

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

July 6 2010

Nationals Leader Warren Truss has again been caught out telling porkies about Labor’s record on regional road funding, nothing more than a desperate attempt to conceal his own party’s secret list of projects they will cancel to fund their $10 billion in promises.

Mr Truss recently told the listeners of ABC Wide Bay he was “…concerned about … the cutback in road funding in the regions and [the] transfer of so many of the resources to the cities.”

That statement is simply untrue – and Mr Truss knows it’s not the “Gospel truth”.

While I’d be delighted to debate Mr Truss anywhere, anytime and compare our record over the last 2½ years with the Nationals’ over the preceding 12 years when they held the transport portfolio in the Howard Government, here are two facts he should keep in mind for his next radio interview:

Firstly, Labor has more than doubled funding for regional highways and country roads, with three quarters of the entire Federal roads budget – or some $20 billion – earmarked for projects in rural and regional communities.

This includes a record $2.6 billion to upgrade key sections of the Bruce Highway, including in Mr Truss’s own electorate of Wide Bay.

Secondly, Labor has boosted by almost 20 per cent the funding going to regional councils and country shires to help them maintain their local roads.

What’s more, the Nationals opposed our recession-busting, job-creating Economic Stimulus Plan which included funding to start or accelerate work on 17 major regional road projects, including the new Kempsey Bypass, the duplication of Townsville’s Douglas Arterial, the new Mandurah Entrance Road and the upgrade of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale.

They even opposed the stimulus money which has fixed hundreds of notorious black spots on country roads as well as installed boom gates and other safety measures at high risk level crossings in dozens of regional communities.

Instead of telling porkies about the Government, Mr Truss should come clean about the road projects he and Tony Abbott would cancel in order to fund the Federal Coalition’s many promises. At the very least, the communities where the axe would fall have a right to know the Federal Coalition doesn’t consider them a priority.