Queensland transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey says the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade may need to be delivered in stages due to a shortfall in federal funding.
Bailey on Tuesday said deputy prime minister Michael McCormack had confirmed no more federal funding would be made available for the project, which will duplicate 40 kilometres of the state’s North Coast line on the Sunshine Coast.
The Coalition has committed $390 million to the project, which has been approved by Infrastructure Australia and is on its Priority Projects list as a result.
However the state says after the Federal LNP added the North Coast line to the National Land Transport Network in 2014, the project – which has a total cost estimate of $800 million – should qualify for its 80:20 federal-state funding model.
Bailey said this meant the Coalition was short-changing the state by at least $250 million on the project.
“It’s clear the Morrison Government is not prepared to play by its own funding rules because of the Sunshine Coast’s safe Federal LNP seats,” the minister said. “We have consistently said the Federal Government should stick to its own funding rules and commit appropriate funding for this project.”
Bailey said the funding shortfall would mean the project may have to be delivered in stages.
He noted the stark contrast between this decision from the Coalition, and the recent commitment to provide $700 million to cover 80 per cent of the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds Rail Upgrade in Victoria, which last year failed to win approval from Infrastructure Australia.
“The Morrison Government has committed billions of dollars to Victorian rail projects in recent weeks but not a cent for the Sunshine Coast,” Bailey said, “despite Infrastructure Australia giving the [Victorian] project’s business case a thumbs down.
“Why would they do that? Because the project falls in an LNP-held seat that is also Victoria’s most marginal.”
Bailey, part of the state’s Labor Government, said federal Sunshine Coast MPs should stand up for residents.
“Local [Liberal National Party] members like Ted O’Brien and Andrew Wallace hold their seats with safe margins,” Bailey said. “It’s time they took some risks and started asking the tough questions of their own government, which has abandoned its responsibility to properly back the transport infrastructure needed to support the growing Sunshine Coast.”