Chester spruiks Bridges Renewal Program investment

Albanese says Coalition has not lived up to its word, delivering '$80 million less than promised four years back'

Chester spruiks Bridges Renewal Program investment
The federal government will limit funding to $5 million per project.


The third round of the government’s Bridges Renewal Program will see replacement or upgrade of 186 bridges across Australia, federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester has announced.

The project is part of government’s $75 billion infrastructure investment plan that has seen over 200 projects either underway or completed across the country.

Chester says the government will spend a total of $162.53 on these upgrades, with federal funding limited to $5 million per project.

"The bridges renewal program gives local, state and territory governments the support they need to replace and upgrade key bridges," Chester says.

"This new funding is in addition to the $216 million already committed under the first two rounds of the program, which has seen 201 bridge projects being upgraded or completed.

"The upgrade of these bridges will improve driving conditions for residents and local freight operators, by delivering safer and more productive bridges that are fit-for purpose.

"The Bridges Renewal Program forms part of our $75 billion infrastructure investment plan, which is delivering the infrastructure Australia needs to support metropolitan and regional areas, and to remain competitive in a global market.

"The Australian Government's financial commitment in this round will be matched by successful proponents, delivering a total investment of at least $345 million towards upgrading bridges.

"To allow for a wider distribution of projects, the Australian Government's contribution under Round Three has been limited to $5 million per project.

"The Coalition Government has identified bridge upgrades and replacements as a national priority and committed $420 million over five years from 2015–16 to 2020–21, with an ongoing commitment of $60 million each year thereafter."

A full list of round three projects can be found here.

Albanese points to spending cut

However, the funding announcement has received flak from federal opposition transport spokesperson Anthony Albanese, who says the government has invested $80 million less than promised four years back.

Albanese points to then Nationals leader Warren Truss’ promise that the Coalition Government would spend $180 million over its first four years in office upgrading bridges in regional and rural areas.

He says while Coalition has led to "endless cuts" to Labor-backed infrastructure programs, it is now making cuts to its own signature program.

"The Bridges Renewal Program was a good idea," Albanese says.

"Improving old bridges in rural and regional areas would dramatically improve road safety and boost productivity.

"But the Government has failed to back its rhetoric with the necessary investment."

Truss first spoke of the Bridges Renewal Programin 2010, with a $300 million spend level proposed.

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