Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

After taking more than double the expected 90 days, the Labor Government’s Independent Strategic Review of Infrastructure has cut funding for key infrastructure projects across the region.

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton says he is appalled by the results of review.

“I’m furious that the Labor Government has stripped the guts from projects which would have secured immense benefits for both the Parkes electorate and the rest of the country,” Mr Coulton said.

“The Minister for Infrastructure has seen fit to cut the Moree Intermodal Overpass and the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri which are crucial elements of the Inland Rail.

“I’ve just had to call the mayors from these areas to let them know that all of the investment and planning put into these expected projects will now grind to a halt, shattering these areas’ projections for growth and development.

“People have staked their livelihoods on the reliability of the Inland Rail as a future driver for growth, as its’ purpose is to connect the productivity of inland New South Wales with the rest of the country. To have these key pieces in the puzzle effectively scrapped is devastating.

“The wider Moree area is one of the most significant agricultural producers in Australia – that the Labor Government has shut down expansion of the Inland Rail in this area shows a shocking lack of both insight and foresight.

“These rail projects are part of feeding the nation and keeping our economy strong – they would have driven down carbon emissions and made transporting freight more efficient as well as taking pressure off our highways.

Member for New England Barnaby Joyce syas the Audit outcome follows the announcement of the imposition of State Governments being required to foot 30% higher share of the bill. The Audit has revealed that 250 smaller projects have now collapsed into subprograms and been passed onto the states for funding. 

“Expecting the State Governments to pick up the bill on a Federal responsibility, shifting costs of delivery onto the states, who do not have the capacity to deliver, is just kicking the projects they don’t want to deliver into the long grass,” said Mr Joyce.

“We now have a Labor Government that, rather than continue to build on the major Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane, are leaving a rail line of Melbourne to Parkes and Newcastle to North Star, with a population of 230 and 90 kilometres northeast of Moree.”

“There is Labor logic at its paramount genius. Why go to the southeast corner of Queensland, population near 4 million, when you can hang out at North Star.”

In all, 50 projects were cut from the infrastructure pipeline. Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said the cuts represented projects that were not realistically going to be delivered with the available funding, had made little to no progress over a significant amount of time, or did not align with national priorities. In addition to the Inland Rail infrastructure at Moree and Narrabri, significant works on the Oxley and Gwydir highways were also scrapped. However, a number of projects survived the chopping block, including the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass, the Bald Nob Road Upgrade, Goonoo Goonoo Road duplication, and a number of New England Highway projects.

“We have fought hard to keep our road and rail infrastructure projects on the table, with the previous Coalition Government, ensuring that our infrastructure projects demonstrate merit, and I will be paying close attention to ensure these projects are delivered,” said Mr Joyce.

The Mayor of Tenterfield, Bronwyn Petrie thanked Mr Joyce for his ongoing representations in regard to the Tenterfield Bypass and Mount Lindesay Road Projects.

“Funding of the planning and construction of the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass has been confirmed, however no timelines have been announced, but this at least removes the uncertainty over the future of the project for council, residents, and businesses.”

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