Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vowed to take a second look at funding for the much-anticipated Rockhampton Ring Road, despite its snubbing in the most recent federal budget.
Albanese told The Courier Mail that the government wanted it built “as soon as possible”, and laid the blame for the delay squarely at the feet of the previous Coalition government.
“The Rockhampton Ring Road was part of the planning when I was (Infrastructure) Minister a decade ago and then (progress) stopped under the former government,” he said.
“They didn’t dig a hole for 10 years. And as a result of that, it’s been underfunded.
“So we want to get it done and we want to get it done as soon as possible (and) we’ll work with the state government to make sure that we achieve that.”
Albanese’s comments came as a convoy of disgruntled Rockhamption stakeholders headed to Canberra to express their disappointment at the funding delay.
Labor had shelved the project that was due to start in January next year due to a budget blowout.
According to one report, the lowest tender had come in at $1.7 billion – significantly above the $1.065 billion budget for the project.
The project is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments, with a federal contribution of $852 million and state, $213 million.
The 14.7km ring road project, the biggest infrastructure project to yet be delivered in Central Queensland, will support about 783 direct jobs.
It’s also expected to significantly reduce congestion through the city of Rockhampton while improving freight times for thousands of Queensland businesses moving goods up and down the coast.
“Businesses across Rockhampton have been gearing up for this $1 billion plus project, buying equipment, employing staff, to ultimately ensure we had a shovel-ready workforce,” said Greg Bowden, executive manager of Advance Rockhampton, the region’s lead economic development agency
“There are no winners with this delay and local industry are the ultimate losers, now out of pocket and wondering what their next big project will be.
“I commend local industry leaders for acting swiftly in response to the delay.”
“A project of this magnitude does not come around often, especially in regional Queensland. The Rockhampton Ring Road was slated to bring almost 800 new jobs. It would have changed our community forever with the economic benefits worth tens of millions.”
“A construction timeline is ultimately needed, and it’s needed now.”