$4 billion Bruce Highway pledge an 'election year stunt'
UPDATE: The Queensland government has labelled the $4 billion in funding announced for the Bruce Highway as nothing more than an election year stunt.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said in a statement there was no additional funding over and above the Federal Government's normal expected spending on the Bruce Highway.
"Today's announcement by Julia Gillard and Anthony Albanese is little more than a scam," Mr Seeney said.
"They want Queenslanders to believe that they are spending up big on the Bruce Highway when in reality all they are doing is announcing spending that is the base funding they would spend over the next decade.
"They have failed totally to commit new funding as demanded by our Bruce Highway Action Plan.
"This is an election year stunt.
"If Julia Gillard and Labor were fair dinkum they would provide this base funding and then commit to our Action Plan which calls for an additional $4 billion from the Federal Government over the next decade with an additional billion dollars from Queensland.
"We are prepared to spend a billion dollars on top of what we would normally spend to upgrade and maintain the highway over the next ten years.
"Queenslanders deserve the Federal Government to do the same on what is, after all, a part of the national highway system and a federal responsibility.
"What we are seeing today is a shabby trick on Queenslanders who have to put up with an inferior and dangerous road which is less than 10% of the national highway system, but accounts for 17% of fatalities," Mr Seeney said.
Meanwhile, independent federal MP Peter Slipper said he welcomed the announcement.
Mr Slipper said it would provide long term funding certainty for the Bruce Highway.
"I strongly encourage the Queensland Government to embrace a partnership with the Federal Government and focus attention on negotiations for the timetable for the next round of targeted improvements.''
Gillard announces $4 billion for Bruce Highway upgrade
THE Federal Government will today announce plans to spend $400 million upgrading the Bruce Hwy on the Sunshine Coast as part of a $4.1 billion package to help fix the state's major transport corridor.
The upgrade will focus on the section between Caloundra Rd and the Sunshine Motorway.
The announcement follows The Daily's campaign that brought together commuters, business leaders and politicians as one strong voice to improve highway safety and travelling time.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will announce a 10-year funding commitment, the bulk of which is expected to be new money.
Ms Gillard, with Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, will make the announcement in Rockhampton, in Central Queensland today.
"We are reaffirming our commitment to the Bruce Hwy with a $4.1 billion capital works program which will further improve safety, cut travel times and improve the road's flood immunity," Ms Gillard said.
The $400 million earmarked for the Sunshine Coast will be spent on stage one of a 7km upgrade.
It will involve building a new flyover ramp providing a direct non-stop connection for motorists travelling north on the Bruce Hwy from the Sunshine Mwy.
This work is expected to significantly improve safety and congestion on the road.
In Central Queensland, APN Newsdesk understands the Federal Government will commit up to $300 million to build the next stage of the highway between the Burnett Hwy and the Yeppen Roundabout.
It will also seek to expedite planning and construction for the Mackay Ring Road.
Beyond the major projects some of the $4.1 billion will be used to construct more overtaking lanes and rest stops and to eliminate black spots.
The Queensland Government committed an additional $1 billion over the next decade to upgrade the highway, and had been calling on the Federal Government to kick in $4 billion.
Both governments will now consult on a schedule for the work.
Mr Albanese said the funding announcement showed Labor was serious about making the Bruce Hwy a better road for Queenslanders.
"Federal Labor understands that infrastructure matters and when it comes to Queensland there is no more important piece of road infrastructure than the Bruce Hwy," Mr Albanese said.
"That's why we will continue our unprecedented investment in it."
The federal Coalition is yet to announce its funding plans for the Bruce Hwy.
In February Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told reporters in Rockhampton: "I congratulate Premier Newman for putting a billion dollars towards a serious and sustained upgrade of the highway.
"We'll have a lot more to say about the Bruce Hwy quite shortly."
How do you feel about the announcement of funding to upgrade the Bruce Hwy?
This poll ended on 24 May 2013.
Fantastic ... it will change my life
Nice ... it's long overdue
I'll be happy when the work starts
Wow ... and in an election year!
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.