BRISBANE: Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has pledged to work with the Queensland government to build the “congestion-busting” cross-river rail project by committing $2.24 billion to the project if elected.
In a clear sign that Queensland will be the fighting ground at the next federal election, ALP leader Bill Shorten has committed a massive $2.24 billion to the 10.2km cross-river rail line, fully funding the project that he said the Turnbull government had turned its back on.
“A Shorten Labor Government will help end the gridlock in South East Queensland by investing $2.24 billion towards the congestion-busting Cross River Rail project.
“This is South East Queensland’s number one infrastructure project – that’s why Labor is making it a priority,” the opposition leader announced on Monday.
Until Monday’s announcement by the federal opposition, Queensland ALP had committed to going it alone following failed attempts to secure funding from the Liberal National government in previous budgets.
“Only an out-of-touch prime minister would ignore the critical need for investment in public transport infrastructure.
“South East Queensland is crying out for investment in this project – but Mr Turnbull has been ignoring it. He hasn’t put in a dollar of Federal funding to get construction off the ground.”
Running from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills the $5.4 billion rail line will deliver a new crossing of the Brisbane River reducing congestion on the Merivale Bridge, which is currently running at capacity.
Including four new underground stations at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street, the line is expected to influence more people onto public transport by offering turn up and go services.
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad welcomed the funding pledge by the Shorten opposition saying it was clear that only Labor was committed to busting congestion and securing jobs for the state.
“Cross River Rail is essential to the future of transport in the whole South East region and we need to build it now,” Ms Trad said.
“That’s why the Queensland Government committed to fully fund the project on our own, after years of being ignored by the Turnbull LNP Government.
“This announcement by Bill Shorten and the Labor Opposition is very welcome and demonstrates Federal Labor’s commitment to busting congestion and delivering jobs in Queensland.
“Cross River Rail will fix the bottleneck over the Merivale Bridge, enabling us to run more trains, more often and get people home faster.
“It will mean turn-up-and-go frequency services and, as we have seen over the past fortnight at the Commonwealth Games, when you offer the services people will get out of their cars and onto public transport.
“It’s not good enough that the Prime Minister continues to ignore this critical project, instead choosing to fund pet projects in Melbourne and Sydney,” she went on to say.
With the federal budget now only weeks away, it will be all eyes on the coalition government to see if they will match the funding pledge by the ALP. The prime minister has been reluctant to allocate federal funds to the project even though Infrastructure Australia has classed the project as ‘ready to proceed’.
Malcolm Turnbull famously turned down a request made last year by the state government to allocate more funding to the project by saying that the business case prepared was not sufficient for funding to be given.
No further updates or announcements have been made by the prime minister regarding his potential future commitment for the project or the likelihood of funding in the upcoming budget.