"The federal government's $322m road package is a familiar story, says Labor" - The Mercury

The Federal Government's $322m road funding announcement contains projects that have been "reheated more times than a dodgy takeaway", Labor says.

Among the funding foreshadowed in Tuesday night’s federal budget are a swathe of state government election campaign promises.

The Liberals announced on April 27 they would spend $60m to deliver a major upgrade to the Algona Roundabout and the Kingston Bypass. It turns out the federal government will pay $48m of that.

The Liberals promised $8.5m for the Huon Link Road in the lead-up to the state election. The federal government will pay $13.2m towards what turns out to be a $16.5m project.

The Liberals promised $55m to duplicate South Arm Road from Pass Road to Oakdowns and to upgrade the Acton Road intersection. The federal government will pay $44m of the $55m budget.

State Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson announced in March that work was underway on the final stages of the Midland Highway plan. The federal government will now pick up $110m of the $144m price tag.

The federal government promised a capped $40m contribution to fully fund the Burnie shiploader during the 2019 election campaign. Tuesday’s budget contains another $24m towards the project — suggesting a 60 per cent cost blowout.

Mr Ferguson said the funding was a sign of both level of governments working together.

“It’s been a strong partnership between the two governments going back many years now,” Mr Ferguson said.

“Our departments have never stopped talking to each other, even before the election was called, about upcoming likely growth.”

The federal government has a history of overpromising and underdeliving road infrastructure in Tasmania: the $25m Urban Congestion Fund promised in 2019 is still untouched and the $461m Bridgewater Bridge promised the year before still hasn’t been built.

Federal Member for Lyons Brian Mitchell said the Prime Minister’s funding announcement for the Bass and Midland highways wasn’t new.

“This isn’t new funding — it’s an existing promise that has been repackaged to try and hoodwink Tasmanian voters,” he said.

“Under Liberal governments, the Midland Highway project still isn’t finished and completed sections are substandard. Some have had to be replaced.

“If the Prime Minister was serious about Tasmanian roads he’d be offering support for Tasman Highway on the East Coast and to fix Arthur Highway, like Labor did at the last election.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Carol Brown said the federal government talked a big game.

“In an extraordinarily brazen attempt to pretend they are actually delivering for Tasmania, the Liberals have reheated and re-announced commitments to the Midland and Bass highways made in their first term in office, attempting to pass them off as new money,” Senator Brown said.

As seen in The Mercury Newspaper, Tuesday 11 May 2021