The battle over Stage 4 of the Light Rail has taken a new turn with a sitting federal MP vowing to block the project.
McPherson MP Karen Andrews says she cannot support the project “as it stands”, arguing it risks destroying the southern Gold Coast.
She has even written to the Federal Infrastructure Minister urging him not to commit any Commonwealth funds to the project.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
The revelation comes a day after Mayor Tom Tate criticised both major parties for failing to back Stage 4, accusing them of ignoring the Gold Coast and taking local voters for granted.
Council wants work on Stage 4 to get underway as soon as Stage 3 to Burleigh Heads is complete, in order for the line to be finished before the 2032 Olympics.
The state government has already determined that the best route for the light rail is down the Gold Coast Highway despite the concerns of residents.
Ms Andrews has hit back at the Mayor over his push for funding.
“Mayor Tom Tate is now trying to push for a commitment on Federal funding to fit his preferred timetable,” Ms Andrews said in a letter to residents.
“I have once again urged the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure not to provide any funding for the project as it currently stands.
“We cannot risk damaging local businesses, creating long-term traffic issues, and harming our environment with the current proposal. It is not fit for purpose.”
A recent survey of 1005 residents along the proposed route between Burleigh and Tugun found 63 per cent of people back the project as it is.
“The consultation undertaken has backed the results from previous studies, and I’m pleased to see we are on the right track in developing the case for a service that people truly want,” Transport Minister Mark Bailey said last month.
Mayor Tom Tate says he’s staggered at Ms Andrews’ position and questioned the timing of her announcement.
“This project has been in the planning for 20 years. We’ve been building it for the last ten years and if she was adamant about it, why didn’t you jump up and down before we start stage one,” Mayor Tate said.
“It’s ludicrous to have stage one, two and three fully funded by all three tiers of government and to go, well, now it’s in my backyard. We don’t want stage four.”
The Mayor says sending the route of Stage 4 down the heavy rail corridor would cost a further billion dollars and add an extra 30 minutes to the trip.
“What about respecting ratepayers’ funds and taxpayers’ funds out the window because you just woke up one day and go, well, I’m going to lobby against it.
“I’ve never been this disappointed in a political arena since I’ve been mayor in the last ten years.”
The Mayor described the timing of the announcement, less than two weeks out from the federal election as “arrogant”.
“If you’re that strong about it. Why didn’t you come out six months ago?”
Labor candidate for McPherson Karl Ungerer has also criticised the timing.
“Ms Andrews’ decision to take a stand now, on the eve of an election, shows that you just can’t trust the LNP on big projects for the Gold Coast,” Dr Ungerer said.
“Last year Ms Andrews supported the light rail. Now she says she opposes it. Gold Coasters deserve certainty.
“Despite wall-to-wall LNP representation on the Gold Coast, we see and hear nothing from our local MPs until election time.
Dr Ungerer did not respond to questions about whether he supports the current proposal for Stage 4 of light rail.