The M1 Taskforce meets with the Federal Government in Sydney on Wednesday, to push for a new funding deal.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey, RACQ’s Paul Turner and Nick Behrens from CCIQ will sit down with Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher.
Minister Bailey said it had been nearly eight weeks since the delegation, which also includes Logan Mayor Luke Smith and Queensland Trucking Association’s Gary Mahon, first requested the meeting, and the Turnbull Government had put it off for too long.
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Mayor Tate has previously said he would be happy with a 65:35 breakdown but Mr Bailey said he would keep pushing for the Commonwealth to cough up 80 per-cent, leaving the State to kick in 20 per-cent.
Minister Bailey said while he and the Mayor were on the same page he still thinks our roads should be funded the same way they are south of the border in New South Wales “we deserve equal treatment on the Gold Coast”.
He added “the risk for Queensland of course is that if we fold on the M1, they’ll start taking money out of roads all over Queensland, I don’t want to see that happen so I think it’s pretty simple; adhere to their own funding formula just like they fund the M1 just across the border in New South Wales”.
“The Turnbull Government can’t buck pass and ignore us any longer, the time has finally come to give Queensland its fair share,” Mr Bailey said.
Minister Bailey also said he was disappointed that the delegation was forced to meet with the Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister, instead of his Federal counterpart or the Prime Minister.
He admitted it “is disappointing, the delegation wanted a meeting with the Prime Minister and he’s flicked past us to a Minister for Urban Infrastructure; it is disappointing but look we’ve got the meeting so that’s positive, I’m optimistic, I’m hopeful that the Federal Government will listen to sense”.
“The M1 is not a country road, like the Sydney-based Minister has implied and because of this he’s ripping off Queenslanders.”
Mr Bailey said more than 147,000 vehicles battle congestion on the M1 each day, including 12,000 freight vehicles and is the highest trafficked road in Queensland.
“The M1 is a highway of national significance which the Federal Government explicitly state themselves and I will go armed with their own documents to prove this,” Mr Bailey said.
When quizzed about whether or not any upgrades of M1 bottlenecks could be completed in time for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, he admitted that would not be possible.
But Minister Bailey was quick to palm off the blame, saying “sadly because there was no action on the M1 by Campbell Newman [former Premier] and Tim Nicholls [former Minister for Main Roads] and the Federal Government over that entire three years”.
“We aren’t going to get this done in time for the Commonwealth Games, we can manage any upgrades during the period of the games, we’ll certainly be doing that; we’ll lock everything down to make sure the traffic flows as well as it can.
“But we’ve inherited a real mess, but we’re trying to get on and get it done and we need the Federal Government to partner with us to do that” Minister Bailey said.
“The M1 is part of the Federal Government’s National Land Transport Network which attracts an 80:20 federal/state funding split.
“Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Fletcher are ignoring their own funding formula and criteria.
“There is a map confirming this which is readily available on Minister Fletcher’s own departmental web site.”
Logan Mayor Luke Smith said Logan City Council is behind the State’s push for an 80:20 funding split for the M1 upgrade and will continue to advocate for what is right.
“The bottleneck on the M1 here in Logan is the largest contributor to congestion and is hurting our local businesses, the Federal Government needs to give Queensland the same fair treatment as it has in other states and agree to the 80:20 funding,” Mr Smith said.
CCIQ’s Nick Behrens said if the current funding impasse can’t be resolved, then the delays experienced as a result of the M1 will continue to cost us hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
“If the Sunshine State wants to have a thriving economy that delivers prosperity to all communities then the Federal Government must place additional money on the table and put in place a level of support that surpasses their own political convenience,” Mr Behrens said.
“It would be a terrible shame for Queensland if politics continues to play a too bigger role in the infrastructure decision making framework particularly in respect to the M1.
“For these reasons CCIQ is delighted to be flying to Sydney tomorrow to provide support to the State Government in securing Queensland’s fair share of Commonwealth support.”
Paul Turner from RACQ, added “The Australian Government has done the right thing for Queensland with 80 per cent contributions to the Bruce and Warrego Highway upgrades and the Toowoomba bypass, now we need to see this positive and accepted approach extended to the Pacific Motorway in Logan and on the Gold Coast.”
Mr Bailey also said he would tell Sydney-based Minister Fletcher that the Queensland Government would not be selling our assets like ports and power to pay for their funding shortfall.
“The Federal Minister is obviously out of touch with Queensland if he’s proudly advocating for Campbell Newman’s policies which were rejected so emphatically by voters eighteen months ago,” he said.
“Queensland does not deserve to be held hostage and made to sell our assets by Canberra to fund basic infrastructure which NSW already gets.”