Governments need to invest more in rail and road

RACQ has called on State and Federal Governments to prioritise investment in rail and road infrastructure, after a new report suggested Federal funding was crucial for the delivery of Cross River Rail and other major transport projects.

The Brisbane Times reported Queensland Major Contractors Association and the Infrastructure Association of Queensland found the State Government would struggle to fund projects beyond its current budget commitments.

RACQ spokesperson Paul Turner said neither the State or Federal Governments’ current budgets had committed enough to rail and road infrastructure in Queensland to achieve the transport outcomes needed.

“To be a truly liveable city in the future, we need a public transport network that’s frequent, reliable, and connected – and a well-developed and high-capacity rail system is vital to that outcome,” Mr Turner said.

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“Transport infrastructure funding in Queensland has trended down from both the Federal and State Governments.

“Last year’s budgeted Federal transport funding for Queensland was $1.58 billion – $470 million less than the previous 2017-18 budget. Queensland Government capital funding for roads and transport in 2018-19 was $4.95 billion. This is a billion dollar increase on the previous year’s budget allocation, but the State’s still well short of the $7 billion dollar funding budgets we saw a decade ago.

“Queensland’s annual roads and transport capital expenditure should be a minimum of two percent of our Gross State Product. In 2018-19, it was budgeted at 1.4 percent of GST, so we’re falling well short of the target.”

Mr Turner said the buck passing and blame game had led to a poor outcome for Queenslanders when it came to road and rail funding.

“We’ve seen in delays to upgrading the Pacific Motorway and the outcome was only achieved when both parties finally came together and jointly funded all four priority projects,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we lose years while this argy bargy continues. The Federal Government must put money into Cross River Rail, but the State must also step up and ensure the duplication of heavy rail from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast is funded. Both must come to the table with Gold Coast City Council, to enable further expansion of the light rail.”

Mr Turner said RACQ would not support the tolling of existing roads to fund future infrastructure projects.