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$96m thrown to scrap heap

Premier Campbell Newman
Premier Campbell Newman

A $96 MILLION plan to begin vital upgrades on the Warrego Hwy near Charlton has been thrown on the scrap heap by Campbell Newman.

The former Bligh government made a budget pledge in June to expand a 6km stretch of the over-used and under-funded highway to four lanes.

The upgrades have been abandoned amid accusations of "dog and pony show" pre-election tactics by Labor.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson accused the Bligh government of spending its final months committing funds to undeliverable projects.

"Labor simply kept putting transport and road projects on lay-by long after they maxed out the credit card," he said.

"It was a $382 million con on Queensland communities crying out for roads and transport infrastructure."

Member for Toowoomba South John McVeigh went a step further, accusing Anna Bligh of trying to sabotage the incumbent State Government.

He said Mr Emerson was going over the budget books with a fine-tooth comb to "make sense of the mess" left by Labor.

"We're saying some unpopular things at the moment, but they are fair dinkum," he said.

"They left us a hell of a mess but we're rolling up our sleeves to sort it out." More than 12,000 vehicles use the section of the highway daily.

That number will only increase as Surat Basin energy developments forge ahead.

Accusations have come from both sides of the fence with former member for Toowoomba North Kerry Shine defending the Labor Party's intentions.

"All our promises were real and the treasurer and premier indicated precisely where the money would come from," he said.

"There wasn't any generalisation about it at all - it was in last year's budget, not just an election promise.

"People in the Darling Downs must feel betrayed.

"After all their talk... once (the LNP) gained office they stabbed voters in the back.

"I would hate to imagine what that stretch of road will look like in four years' time."

Queensland Transport Logistics Council chairman Neil Findlay said increasing freight movement between Toowoomba and the Surat Basin meant the upgrades were becoming ever more critical.

He said without funding, lives were at risk.

"Things like passing lanes and rest areas have a significant bearing on the highway's efficiency and safety," he said.

"We will push hard to get those upgrades done but it stands to reason that it will require investment to maintain its safety."

Topics:  campbell newman funding state government upgrade warrego highway



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