Budget runs off highway

THIS week’s budget has withdrawn federal funding for the Bruce Highway Cooroy to Curra Section B project.

Instead, the Gillard Government will fund five other Bruce Highway projects, including the Caboolture to Caloundra upgrade, worth $85.7 million.

Scrapping their contribution to the Cooroy to Curra Section B project, along with an upgrade to the Ipswich Motorway, will save the government $325.4 million.

Budget papers say funding was not required for the Queensland Government to successfully complete these projects after identifying reduced funding requirements.

Wide Bay MP Warren Truss slammed the move, claiming the Cooroy to Curra stretch of the highway to be the most notorious.

“Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese is well aware of the urgent and vital need to four-lane the entire Cooroy to Curra stretch of the Bruce Highway as soon as possible,” Mr Truss said.

“He has met with community representatives and ambulance officers, he has heard from family members who have suffered loss on the road, and he has seen countless reports detailing the statistics of fatalities and hospitalisations as a result of tragic accidents that have occurred on that section of Highway.”

Mr Truss said the decision could jeopardise the safety of motorists on the section of the highway.

Meanwhile, Tourism Noosa CEO Steve Cooper welcomed Treasurer Wayne Swan’s announcement in the budget that Tourism Australia’s funding would rise from $122 million in 2010/11 to $136 million in 2011/12.

The increase will replenish funds brought forward for emergency campaigns to stimulate demand in key markets in the wake of the global financial crisis and Queensland flooding.

“Tourism deserves more recognition, but in this budget any increase is a good increase,” Mr Cooper said.

“The industry had lobbied substantially for it, and some of the harder decisions expected by industry weren’t as severe.

“It’s about identifying marketing priorities for the Australian tourism industry and having a plan that delivers on those priorities.”

Also, Noosa Chamber of Commerce president Carl Beck said small business was once again the loser in the budget.

“For me, overall small business is the big loser.

“It’s just the way the Labor Government looks at it.

“They don’t care about it in my mind.”

Noosa Greens’ spokesman Jim McDonald said the government’s $2.2 billion investment in mental health services was a long time coming.

“At last they’re taking a first-world attitude to the problem,” he said.



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