FED­ERAL POL­I­TICS Shorten vows to ex­tend high­way

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - PETE MARTINELLI peter.martinelli@news.com.au

THE pro­posed high­way ex­ten­sion to Cairns Air­port would be­gin “straight away” if the ALP was elected in the next fed­eral elec­tion, op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten said yes­ter­day.

Mr Shorten ar­rived in Cairns to prom­ise an $80 mil­lion fed­eral high­way ex­ten­sion from Com­port and Draper streets through to Air­port Ave.

“If I’m elected … and we have El­ida Faith as our mem­ber, we want to get on with it straight away,” he said.

“It is con­tin­gent on strik­ing an ar­range­ment with the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment.”

Mr Shorten’s plan hinges on a 50-50 fund­ing split be­tween the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

How­ever, all pre­vi­ous up­grades to the Bruce High­way have been built with Can­berra foot­ing 80 per cent of the bill.

“He has no idea what the cost will be be­cause Main Roads has done no cost­ing,” Fed­eral Mem­ber for Le­ich­hardt War­ren Entsch said.

“I’m no en­gi­neer but when you look at the work to be done, I sug­gest the $80 mil­lion won’t go very far at all. I think this is a roast that has been pre­pared with­out any meat.”

Queens­land’s Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads would not spec­u­late on whether they could match Mr Shorten’s dol­lar-for-dol­lar of­fer.

“I wel­come this com­mit­ment by Fed­eral La­bor to in­vest in Far North Queens­land and ex­tend the na­tional high­way,” Trans­port and Main Roads Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley said.

Peak body Ad­vance Cairns wants the ALP to com­mit to the project “as a state­ment of in­tent to the re­gion” whether or not El­ida Faith wins Le­ich­hardt.

“Con­tin­gen­cies if can­di­dates are elected as a caveat don’t wash,” Ad­vance Cairns chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Trompf said. “A ring road has been a pri­or­ity of Ad­vance Cairns for sev­eral years.”

Mr Trompf said he would en­gage in on­go­ing talks with the Depart­ment of Main Roads to­mor­row to dis­cuss the re­des­ig­na­tion of state roads to fed­eral high­way.

He said the progress on roads with fed­eral money in south­ern Cairns stood in stark con­trast to those north of the air­port.

“North of Cairns the road net­work is noth­ing short of a night­mare at cer­tain times of the day,” Mr Trompf said.

“It is far faster get­ting into the city from Gor­don­vale than from Clifton Beach.”

Pic­ture: BRENDAN RADKE

PROMIS­ING AC­TION: Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten with La­bor can­di­date for Le­ichardt El­ida Faith.

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