Close up view of the alignment of the Rockhampton Ring Road and Western Road Rail Corridor.
Close up view of the alignment of the Rockhampton Ring Road and Western Road Rail Corridor.

PM pressured to move Ring Road forward

THE pressure is on to get Rockhampton’s biggest future infrastructure project under way, but once again a breakdown between the state and federal governments threatens the $1 billion work.

Last week, after the International Monetary Fund slashed Australia’s economic growth forecast, Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt fired the first shots in the war of words.

With his crosshairs set on the Prime Minister and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, Senator Watt demanded the Commonwealth bring forward spending on the Rockhampton Ring Road Project.

Senator Murray Watt (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
Senator Murray Watt (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

“Ms Landry and Mr Morrison could visit Rockhampton this week and put a shovel in the ground to start the Ring Road project,” he said.

“Scott Morrison should end the hubris and work with the Queensland Government to bring forward this project to stimulate jobs and improve productivity.”

Neither the Prime Minister’s office nor the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister responded to Senator Watt’s demands for funding.

Ms Landry, however, was not so silent.

She said she and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack had been in talks with the State Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.

“We were advised by the representatives that the planning for Rockhampton Ring Road hasn’t even been completed yet and the estimated time frame to complete the plans would take approxi­mately two years,” Ms Landry said.

She said Senator Watt’s statement was “inaccurate” because the progress of the project was in the hands of the State Government.

Michelle Landry and Larry Acton.
Michelle Landry and Larry Acton.

“(Senator Watt) should call his State Labor mates like Barry O’Rourke (Rockhampton MP) and get them to hurry up with the planning of Rockhampton Ring Road,” she said.

Ms Landry said the Federal Government was committed to working with the State Government to begin the project.

Work is expected to start in 2021.

“Where the Queensland Government can demonstrate the capacity and need for funding to be bought forward to support delivery, the Australian Government will use the Mid-Year Economic Fiscal Outlook process to reprofile funding as appropriate so as to better align with the expected project delivery schedule,” she said.

Mr O’Rourke passed the buck straight back to Ms Landry and her Federal Government colleagues.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and QFES Assistant Commissioner Steve Barber.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and QFES Assistant Commissioner Steve Barber.

After his own correspondence with the Department of Main Roads, he provided a timeline given to him that ­contradicted that of Ms Landry’s.

He said the Premier had written to the Prime Minister to fast-track federal funding for road projects including the Rockhampton Ring Road.

He said the State Government had fast-tracked planning to the extent that it would be complete a year earlier than Ms Landry’s claim of two years.

“We want to make sure the Federal Government’s funding is ready to go,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“Planning for the Rockhampton Ring Road is on track for completion next year, soon after the completion of the Northern Access Upgrade.”

Progress on the Ring Road was dependent on whether the Federal Government would release funds, according to the Rockhampton MP.

However, further funding from the Federal Government seems unlikely until the right boxes are ticked.

Just yesterday, it was revealed that less than half a per cent of the Roads of Strategic Importance fund ($4.5 billion) had been funded in Queensland this year.