Dispute stalls progress on second Toowoomba crossing


Federal Government and Queensland at odds over major infrastructure project.

Dispute stalls progress on second Toowoomba crossing
Warren Truss is seeking more information from Queensland on the funding model for the second Toowoomba crossing.

 

Just weeks after a shortlist was announced of potential companies to build a new heavy vehicle bypass west of Brisbane, progress on the initiative has stalled over a funding dispute.

The Federal Government this week froze its $1.28 billion commitment to the second Toowoomba range crossing, a 41km route running from the Warrego Highway to the Gore Highway allowing trucks to bypass Toowoomba.

Infrastructure minister Warren Truss says Queensland, which has committed $342 million to the project, now wants an extra $123 million from the Federal Government.

Truss has questioned the need for extra funding given Queensland has forecast strong revenues and has also criticised the state for failing to provide relevant financial information for the project.

"It is essential that Queensland's proposal achieves the best value for money outcome for all Australians — and no such judgement can be made based on the scant information so far provided by Queensland," Truss says.

"To enable a full assessment, the Australian Government has been seeking access for many months to the funding model Queensland is using to test financing assumptions for this project. This information has not been forthcoming."

A letter was sent this week to Queensland Treasury requesting information on the funding model, which Truss says is reasonable given the Federal Government is financing 80 per cent of the crossing.

"It is a basic requirement for funding of any project of this nature," he says.

"The project will also require assessment by Infrastructure Australia and, to date, insufficient information has been provided to enable any reasonable judgement to be made whether the proposed funding model delivers the best value for money."

Truss has put the onus on the Queensland Government to provide the material requested.

Yesterday, Queensland treasurer Tim Nicholls claimed the state had been given no reason as to why the federal funding had been frozen.

Queensland is now sending two senior project officers to Canberra to work with federal officials on the details of the project.

Truss says it will probably take the Federal Government one week to evaluate and respond to Queensland’s proposed financial model.

"This could have been done months ago had Projects Queensland been willing to cooperate," he says.

Due to open in 2018, the second range crossing will involve a 41km bypass north of Toowoomba running from the Warrego Highway at Helidon in the east, to the Gore Highway at Athol in the west.

Truss says that of all projects under the management of Projects Queensland, the Toowoomba crossing is the only one causing difficulties.

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