10 Queensland stalled in fast-track slow lane
JUST one of the 15 major projects to be fast-tracked under an economic rescue package lauded by Scott Morrison is in Queensland, and it is not due to start construction for two years.
Despite this, more than half of the billion-dollar infrastructure projects are in the Prime Minister’s home state of NSW.
Infrastructure Association of Queensland blasted the decision as disappointing, saying it was clear the state, key to winning the last election, was “not a priority”.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack defended the project choices, saying they were identified in consultation with the states and that additional cash had been granted for road safety upgrades in the state.
The one project approved for fast-tracking in Queensland in the Inland Rail, which goes through Victoria and NSW as well.
But the route is yet to be finalised through the state’s south, and is currently under review and construction is not expected to start in the state until 2022.
The eight projects approved for fast-tracking in NSW include highway upgrades, a metro line, and Snowy 2.0.
Infrastructure Association of Queensland boss Priscilla Radice said infrastructure was key to stimulating the economy and it was disappointing to see the state missed out.
“It would appear Queensland is not a priority despite our ability to open the economy sooner than NSW or Victoria,” Ms Radice said.
“There are numerous projects on the Infrastructure Priority List that could be supported in Queensland.”
Labor Senator Murray Watt said the Morrison government’s fast-track announcement had left Queensland “in the slow lane”. “With any luck, Australia will be well and truly recovering from the pandemic by the time the project starts,” he said. “Now when we need federal investment he’s showering money on his own home state of NSW.”
Mr McCormack said the Morrison government had committed $324m in June towards smaller shovel-ready projects and road safety upgrades to “drive jobs and boost the economy”.
He said the design of the Inland Rail continued to be progressed with community input and independent assessments.