LNP pushes highway plan as Albo bags 'shameless' Truss

LNP pushes for more action to upgrade Bruce Highway, prompting a sharp rebuke from the Gillard administration

LNP pushes highway plan as Albo bags 'shameless' Truss
LNP pushes highway plan as Albo bags 'shameless' Truss
By Brad Gardner | April 7, 2011

Nationals leader Warren Truss has called for greater investment in the Bruce Highway to flood-proof the route, prompting a sharp rebuke from the Federal Government.

Following the release this week of a Main Roads report stating it will cost $5.3 billion to prevent flooding, Truss says the federal and Queensland governments must make funding the national route a priority.

Truss wants the Cooroy to Curra section of the highway completed by 2020. He also wants flood mitigation work and route realignments completed in the north of the state.

He accused Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and the Queensland Government of having "zero credibility when it comes to making serious commitments to improve the highway".

Albanese says federal funding for the Bruce has almost quadrupled to more than $380 million a year.

"Warren Truss has no shame when it comes to the Bruce Highway," Albanese says.

"As much as he would like to rewrite history, Mr Truss was a transport minister in the former Howard Government which had 12 years to do something about this road and the record tax revenues to pay for it but instead chose to do very little."

Albanese referred to comments made by LNP MP Ewen Jones, who was quoted in the Townsville Bulletin saying: "I’ll give Labor a pat on the back and say they have spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before."

"Here’s the bottom line: had the LNP made a financial commitment similar to ours when they were last in government then the Bruce Highway would today be a much better, safer road," Albanese says.

The Main Roads report estimates it will cost $5.3 billion to mitigate flooding on the 1,600km of road between Brisbane and Cairns.

Truss has partly blamed the Queensland Government for the poor state of sections of the highway, saying it has failed to meet its maintenance and upkeep responsibilities.

"I am sure that any motorist who uses the highway can think of places where the road is falling apart and needs to be repaired," he says.

"The Bruce Highway connects towns and communities from Brisbane to Cairns and it is essential that this vital north-south transport corridor can withstand natural disasters as much as possible."

Truss has criticised Queensland Main Roads Minister Craig Wallace for not protesting Albanese’s decision to divert $325 million worth of projects to pay for the damage caused by severe flooding in January this year.

The Caboolture to Caloundra project will not resume until after the flood recovery effort finishes, along with the upgrade to the highway between Cabbage Tree Creek to Carman Road and Back Creek Range.

The realignment of the highway from Sandy Corner to Collinsons Lagoon, which is prone to significant flooding, has also been put on hold.

Money for intersection upgrades along Burdekin Road has been funnelled into recovery efforts, with another $40 million coming from the Herbert River floodplain project.

Funding has also been stripped from the Vantassel Street to the Flinders Highway upgrade.

"It is hypocritical that Mr Wallace, knowing that his department was preparing this report, did not say a word when the Gillard Labor government cut $325 million from safety projects and flood mitigation works along the highway," Truss says.

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