Albo and Truss trade blows over Roads to Recovery

Rudd Government denies it is going to cut Roads to Recovery program despite Opposition claims it will be scrapped

By Brad Gardner | June 21, 2010

The Rudd Government has denied any plans to cut the Roads to Recovery program despite Opposition claims it will be scrapped.

Opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss yesterday claimed Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese was "wandering the country questioning the future of Roads to Recovery".

"I fear that a re-elected Labor government would scrap or wind back Roads to Recovery," Truss says.

However, a spokesman for Albanese says the Government has shown it is committed to the program because it introduced legislation expanding funding for the program by $250 million over five years.

The Government has allocated $1.75 billion between 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 under its Nation Building Program.

"I don’t suggest that is the action of a government that is about to abolish it," the spokesman says of Roads to Recovery, which is given to councils to upgrade local roads.

He also questioned how the Coalition will fund its transport commitments, which include $300 million over 10 years for rest areas and half of the $600 million Bridges Renewal Program.

Truss says the money will come from the Nation Building Program despite the Government saying funding has been allocated up to 2013-2014.

"If they think there is a spare dollar in the Nation Building Program they are very delusional," the spokesman says.

The Coalition recently confirmed it would need to divert funding from projects to fund the promises, but has not confirmed which ones will be affected.

Truss also criticised Albanese for claiming the bridge scheme was a "con job", saying it shows the Rudd Government is not interested in replacing or repairing ageing bridges.

Under Truss’ proposal, councils and state governments will match federal funding of $300 million over four years to fix bridges.

The announcement gained the backing of the Australian Trucking Association, which hopes stronger bridges will lead to more access for higher productivity vehicles.

"Councils have been asking for a program like this which will assist them with the expensive business of replacing or rebuilding ageing bridges, many of them in regional Australia," Truss says.

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