Pressure is growing on the Federal Government to increase its contribution to Light Rail Stage 3A after the State Government finally put money on the table for the project.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was on the Gold Coast today to announce the State Government would commit $351 million dollars to extend the line from Broadbeach South to Burleigh Heads.
The Premier says the light rail is a crucial piece of infrastructure for the city.
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“Everyone loves the light rail, it’s been a game changer for the Gold Coast, tourists love it, I know people during the Commonwealth Games loved using it, “The Premier said.
“If I can get the money from the Federal Government by the end of this year, construction can start next year.”
The project is expected to cost $709 million dollars with Canberra already pledging $112 million of that.
But the State Government argues that’s not enough and is calling on Canberra to chip in $269 million.
“We could not complete Stage 1 and 2 without the Federal Government’s fair share of commitment,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“The State has put almost 50 per cent on the table, I think that’s a pretty good commitment here for the Gold Coast, it’s equivalent to the share we’ve put up in in the past and now we’re asking the Commonwealth to put in their fair share so we can get this going.”
The Premier is due to hold talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Cairns on Friday.
Mayor Tom Tate welcomed the State Government’s announcement and agreed Canberra needs to cough up more money to get the project started.
“Whatever percentage the Federal Government gave in Stage 2, they should come up with that,” Mayor Tate said.
“There’s $5 billion dollars in reserve funds in Infrastructure Australia, we’d only only take a minimal amount to get the tram rolling.”
The Mayor says the extension is ready to start as soon as possible.
“All the engineering planing, the design work, it’s all done, we can sod-turn very quickly and consultation has been extensive.
“This is what you call a shovel-ready project.”
But the State Opposition has accused the Premier of playing politics with light rail.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington says Gold Coasters just want to see light rail up and running.
“It’s a state project, Annastacia Palaszczuk has been left lagging behind on this project for years,” Ms Frecklington said.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to front up, she’s the only one refusing to fully fund it.
“She’s got $167 million (left) over from the Commonwealth Games, she should use that to fully fund light rail.”
Federal Gold Coast MP Karen Andrews says she’s “delighted” at the news, but stopped short of committing any extra money.
“Quite frankly they could have done this months ago but they didn’t, however, it’s better they got to the station late than missed the tram altogether.” Ms Andrews said.
“I’m committed to working constructively with the State Government to get the Coast moving, that includes light rail through to Burleigh and it also includes fast tracking the M1 all the way to Tugun.”