The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Member for New England
16 November 2023
INFRASTRUCTURE PIPELINE – NEW ENGLAND CUTS, AFTER 200 DAY AUDIT
After more than 200 days of waiting, the Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, has partially handed down her findings on the Labor Government’s Infrastructure Audit, leaving local governments and communities in the dark on over 250 projects, as to whether their projects will go ahead or not.
Of the 50 projects that have been slashed from the pipeline, one of those, the $8 million planning stage of the Gwydir Highway Improvements Project has been listed as not demonstrating merit to be funded. The Gwydir Project was to scope upgrades to include passing opportunities over the Great Dividing Range and improve road safety across the corridor, road widening and intersection improvements.
Even though the Gwydir project was the first to be listed as a casualty of Labor’s Audit for the New England, the biggest blow from the Albanese Labor Government was dealt swiftly when they came to Government, slashing the Dungowan Dam and Pipeline Project in their 2023/24 Budget. Another casualty of the Audit is the Inland Rail Project, providing the means to supply markets and sustain industry, allowing regional communities to thrive.
Despite the announcement of projects listed ‘to be established’ and ‘to be built as planned’, the outcome of the audit has provided more uncertainty, as no timelines, budgets or scope of works have been outlined.
The Audit outcome follows the announcement of the imposition of State Governments being required to foot 30% higher share of the bill. This does not provide any assurance that regional communities and smaller Local Government areas will be able to afford to deliver local key infrastructure projects.
‘Expecting the State Governments to pick up the bill on a Federal responsibility, shifting costs of delivery onto the states, who do not have the capacity to deliver, is just kicking the projects they don’t want to deliver into the long grass’, said Mr Joyce.
The Audit has revealed that 250 smaller projects have now collapsed into subprograms and been handballed onto the states.
‘We now have a Labor Government that, rather than continue to build on the major Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane, are leaving a rail line of Melbourne to Parkes and Newcastle to North Star, with a population of 230 and 90 kilometres northeast of Moree. There is Labor logic at its paramount genius. Why go to the southeast corner of Queensland, population near 4 million, when you can hang out at North Star’.
‘We have fought hard to keep our road and rail infrastructure projects on the table, with the previous Coalition Government, ensuring that our infrastructure projects demonstrate merit, and I will be paying close attention to ensure these projects are delivered, said Mr Joyce
The Mayor of Tenterfield, Bronwyn Petrie thanked Mr Joyce for his ongoing representations in regard to the Tenterfield Bypass and Mount Lindesay Road Projects.
‘Funding of the planning and construction of the Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass has been confirmed, however no timelines have been announced, but this at least removes the uncertainty over the future of the project for council, residents, and businesses.’
Projects listed as planned to be built are:
Coulsons Creek Road Upgrade - $38,600,000
Mt Lindesay Road – Legume to Woodenbong - $1,500,000
Port Stephens Cutting Upgrade - $20,000,000
Bald Nob Road upgrade - $4,480,000
Muswellbrook Bypass - $26,880,000 (planning) $241,920,000 (construction)
The following road corridors will be established:
New England Highway – Singleton Bypass
Tenterfield to Newcastle – Rocky Cut realignment
Tenterfield to Newcastle – Goonoo Goonoo Road duplication
Tenterfield to Newcastle – New England Highway corridor – priority intersection upgrades
New England Highway – Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass – construction
New England Highway – Tenterfield Heavy Vehicle Bypass – planning
New England Highway – Belford to Muswellbrook safety and capacity upgrade
Tenterfield to Newcastle – Sandy Hollow Rest area upgrade
Tenterfield to Newcastle – Future Priorities (funding pool)
Media Contact: Heidi Williamson
PH: 0436 807 792