The Queensland government’s hopes of a last-minute federal injection to Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project appear to have been dashed, with the prime minister refusing to commit to funding.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk raised the topic of federal funding for the project during discussions at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Hobart, but did not receive a pledge.
“My government has already committed $850 million to Cross River Rail. We expect a matching commitment from the Turnbull government so work on Cross River Rail can get under way,” she said after the discussions.
The state Labor government has previously urged the commonwealth to at least match its funding commitment or risk delaying the start of the rail beyond the end of this year.
But this year’s federal budget overlooked the $5.4 billion project, instead including a multi-billion dollar federal rail fund which could be used to pay for the Brisbane proposal, but not before 2019.
In the absence of federal funds, the Palaszczuk government would have to decide whether to go ahead alone, or seek other funding arrangements, possibly from the private sector.
During a meeting three weeks, ago Mr Turnbull told the premier there were outstanding requests for information from Infrastructure Australia.
Ms Palaszczuk on Friday said that information had since been provided, while the project had also received the support of the Brisbane City Council.
“The prime minister now has no excuse for the people of southeast Queensland for continuing to fail to fund Cross River Rail and help alleviate traffic congestion,” she said.
Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Jackie Trad said Mr Turnbull’s refusal to commit to funding came on the same day the project secured all major state approvals necessary.
At a pre-budget address on Tuesday, Treasurer Curtis Pitt said he “had a plan” to fund the project, but that didn’t mean federal funds would be unwelcome if they were offered.
Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls called on the government to release its business case.
“If it’s such a good business case, why are Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad refusing to release the details?” he said.