No cash for regional roads until after next election

LESS than half a per cent of a $4.5 billion fund meant to build roads connecting regions with major business opportunities will be spent in Queensland this year.

The Federal Government's Roads of Strategic Importance fund is meant to ensure key freight roads efficiently connect agricultural and mining regions to ports, airports and other transport hubs.

But new budget details reveal there is just $14.5 million of the fund allocated to be spent in Queensland this financial year (2019-20).

There are 14 priorities identified under the scheme in Queensland worth more than $1 billion.

Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

It includes the Tennant Creek to Townsville corridor upgrade, Yeppoon Road duplication, Toowoomba to Ipswich link and the Quay Street upgrade in Bundaberg.

But just five of these projects have any money allocated to them this year, budget documents reveal.

There is just $32 million budgeted for next financial year.

The actual spending is expected to remain low until after the next election, in 2023-24, when the vast bulk of the cash - $711 million - will flow.

Opposition infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King said while the projects were meant to be "immediate priorities", there was no money spent on mainland Australian roads at all last financial year.

"With just $14.6 million allocated from ROSI for Queensland roads for all of 2019-20, it just shows Scott Morrison's infrastructure program is all on the never never," she said.

"Scott Morrison must get to work and develop a real plan for infrastructure to create jobs and improve productivity across regional Australia."

She said the Palaszczuk Government had flagged with the Commonwealth several infrastructure projects to be fast tracked and urged them to get started.

This year there is just $4 million budgeted for the Tennant Creek to Townsville upgrade, $3.8 million for the Mt Isa to Rockhampton corridor, $3.8 million for the Cooktown to Weipa corridor, $2 million for the Townsville to Roma Corridor and $1 million for the Cairns to Northern Territory Border upgrade.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he would work with all states and territories to finalise the delivery time frames for the projects.

"While this inevitably takes time, we are committed to getting shovels in the ground on all projects as soon as possible," he said



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