Critics circle after Olympic project funding claims

Laine Clark |

Queensland has secured federal funding to extend a rail link on the Sunshine Coast.
Queensland has secured federal funding to extend a rail link on the Sunshine Coast.

Funding has been secured for a key Brisbane Olympic project by a Queensland delegation, Deputy Premier Steven Miles says.

However, critics are questioning the success of their “convoy to Canberra”.

Mr Miles led the delegation who met with federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine King in the nation’s capital on Wednesday.

They raised concerns after nine projects valued at $363 million were axed in Queensland as part of “outrageous” federal infrastructure cuts, with another five placed on hold.

But Mr Miles on Thursday claimed a major Brisbane 2032 Games project would go ahead, saying federal government funding had been secured for a critical Sunshine Coast rail extension to Maroochydore.

He said the federal government would reserve $1.44 billion for the project’s construction, with another $160 million available for a business case, planning and early works.

“The direct Sunshine Coast rail line will be prioritised as part of the transport program for the 2032 Games,” Mr Miles told parliament on Thursday.

He also claimed success on social media, tweeting: “Huge news, we’ve secured funding for the Sunshine Coast Rail line after fighting for Queensland’s fair share.”

However, Deputy Opposition Leader Jarrod Bleijie said the $1.6 billion set aside for the project was reconfirmed in the federal government infrastructure review two weeks ago.

“(Mr Miles) comes back like this is a great announcement – nothing’s changed,” he told parliament.

“This announcement was made two weeks ago by the federal government.”

It is believed the money was retained in the federal government infrastructure spending review for the heavy passenger rail but the state government is yet to commit construction funds.

“Until we see the state government actually commit to building this project I wouldn’t open any champagne bottles just yet,” commuter advocate Jeffrey Addison told Seven News.

A business case is believed to be due early next year when an updated cost is set to be revealed.

Meanwhile, Mr Miles said the Commonwealth had also confirmed a commitment to the $1 billion Inland Freight Route, known as the Second Bruce.

The state government this week kickstarted the project with a $107 million early works package including priority upgrades along the 1185km route, to lay the foundation for major works.

The project will establish a viable north-south alternative to the Bruce Highway, forming a critical freight corridor.

Queensland has allocated $200 million towards the project as part of its 80-20 funding commitment.

Mr Miles said the Commonwealth confirmed there would be no reduction in federal funding to Queensland over time.

“The Australian government’s commitment to fund new project on a 50-50 basis will not result in less funding being provided to Queensland overall,” he said.

“Where the Australian government has committed to fund existing projects on a 80-20 basis, that funding spend will not change.

“They have agreed to work together with us to prioritise projects required for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympic Games.”