Labor’s newly announced “Building Our Regions” program will see a decline in the productivity of Queensland’s regions, according to Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar.
Announced this week, the program comprises two years of funding through four separate tranches: the Regional Capital Fund ($70 Million), the Royalties for Resource Producing Communities Fund ($55 Million), the Remote Communities Infrastructure Fund ($15 Million) and the Transport Infrastructure Development Fund ($60 Million).
“The $60 million Transport Infrastructure Development Fund actually applies to all Queensland councils, including the Brisbane City Council and councils in the South-East Corner. It will be hard for councils in Gregory to get looked at. It is dishonest to pretend it is part of regional funding,” said Mr Millar.
“Only slightly worse is the $55 million Royalties for Resource Communities Fund. It simply replaces the LNP’s $70 million Royalties for the Regions program cutting $15 million of funding while restricting Councils to a $5 Million project cap.
“Having chopped $15 million from Resource communities, this must be what they’ve used for the Remote Communities Infrastructure Fund. The math is so cynical that the seven remote shires over two years can only access about $1 million each. That doesn’t come anywhere near what is needed to maintain these remote roads and crossings,” he said.
Mr Millar said the structure of this funding package would not build Queensland’s regions, but would institutionalise their decline.
“Regional roads are the biggest part of the supply chain of productive Queensland. Forget coal rail freight. Every agricultural product completes the bulk of its journey to port or market on regional roads. The condition of these roads is like a meter, ticking down our competitiveness while ticking up on-costs for producer and consumer alike,” said Mr Millar.
“Country roads are productive roads and they are vital in enabling the economic producers of Queensland to live safely and productively in regional Queensland and to get Queensland’s products to market and port,” he said.
Mr Millar said that infrastructure “gives twice”; first in jobs during construction and then in earnings in the utility phase.
“Because they are not audited like other commonly-held assets, it is easy to let regional roads run down, but the Minister should be aware that when he does that he will also run down Queensland’s GDP and Queensland’s competitiveness in overseas and interstate markets,” he said.