Fears of ‘tram tax’ for Coast light rail
THE Opposition says State Labor will consider introducing a new tax with a levy being discussed by Treasury officials to fund extending Gold Coast light rail to the airport.
The LNP via a Right to Information request has obtained a Treasury discussion paper which looks at funding options for future transport projects in southeast Queensland.
On a graphic which outlines a future "policy alignment play", the Treasury paper points to transport options beyond traditional State Budget funding and includes a section which says "local levies - eg Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast".
LNP transport spokesman Steve Minnikin in state parliament asked Deputy Premier Jackie Trad if she would "rule out the introduction of levies on the people of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast to fund the Sunshine Coast rail upgrade and Gold Coast light rail stage 3".
Mr Minnikin said the plan was in documents proposed by the Treasurer's former chief of staff and now Queensland Treasury general manager.
Ms Trad in her response suggested to Mr Minnikin that he was asking her about the LNP's "value capture" policy for rolling out projects by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
"This is a federal Liberal Party policy. I know those opposite do not particularly care about the Sunshine Coast. Like the Gold Coast, they take it for granted. They never supported light rail on the Gold Coast," Ms Trad replied.
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Trad's answer suggested Labor would consider a new funding arrangement for light rail.
"Jackie Trad has refused to rule out the introduction of another Labor tax on Gold Coast residents to fund Gold Coast light rail," Ms Frecklington told the Bulletin.
"Labor have form when it comes to sneaking in new taxes, with nine new taxes introduced in the last two years ripping $3.5 billion out of the Queensland economy.
"Blaming Malcolm Turnbull for a new Palaszczuk Labor Government tax almost a year after he wasn't Prime Minister is desperate even for Labor's standards. We know that Labor's only plan is higher taxes."
Ms Frecklington said the LNP would deliver a stronger economy which could fund the infrastructure Gold Coast residents needed, with more higher paid local jobs.
Debate continues about light rail Stage 3B with Palm Beach protest leader Karen Rowles armed with a petition signed by thousands calling on the Government to consider an alternative route to the Gold Coast Highway.
The Palaszczuk Government this month confirmed three companies would progress from expressions of interest to the final round of the tender process for Stage 3A of light rail.
In November last year a funding stalemate between the State and Federal Government ended when Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an extra $157 million to secure the tram to Burleigh.
Construction of the 6.7km track along the Gold Coast Hwy from Broadbeach is to start this year and create 760 jobs. Trams are expected to be travelling south by 2023.