Labor commits $80 million to port access road

During a fly-in, fly-out trip to Gladstone yesterday, opposition leader Bill Shorten committed an investment of $80m for stage two of the upgrade to Port Access Road.

Mr Shorten said the Port Access Road upgrade was the "missing link" to bring more opportunities for the Gladstone Port. 

  But sitting member Ken O'Dowd also said yesterday the work would not happen until the project had state government backing. 

  "This Port Access Rd is the next stage.   It's the missing link to help open up the port to no less than 80 different commercial opportunities which could use this port going forward."  

"The story of Gladstone is the story of the port, and Labor has worked to investing on infrastructure so the roads work in such a way that ensures that Gladstone has the best possible opportunities," Mr Shorten said. 

  Mr Shorten made the announcement to a crowded media scrum, with Flynn's Labor candidate Zac Beers and GPC chairman Port Access Rd project officer Leo Zussino. 

  It is the biggest investment promise Labor has made for Gladstone during this election thus far.   

If elected, Mr Shorten said upgrade work would be expected to start in 2017, funding permitted.

   "This project isn't just about the jobs during the construction phase," Mr Beers said.

    "It will also open up new opportunities for the agriculture industry from Banana right through to the Central Highland region," he said. 

  Leo Zussino said this funding opportunity will help make use of the $100m Barney Point Coal Terminal, which sent its last train in May this year.

  "The port has been spending money over the last four to five years so it could be brought to fruition in 2017 and to start construction started. 

  "This facility will be available for agriculture products, mining products and more, and what we need is to have safe, secure access for them. 

  "To do that we need the port access road finished s road upgraded," he said. 

  The May 3 federal budget had no sign of the $50m supposedly promised in the 2014-15 budget for stages 2 and 3 of the Gladstone Port Access Road. 

  Mr O'Dowd said he would not commit an investment for the upgrade until he sees the plans from the Transport and Main Roads. 

  "It's becoming much dearer than they thought," Mr O'Dowd said. 

  "I'll ask for the report, even though it hasn't been forthcoming.

  "We will activate the Port Access Road when the state government make it clear they want to start it," he said.   It was Mr Shorten's first visit to Gladstone during his election campaign. 

  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is yet to visit Gladstone during this election campaign.   

Topics:  bill shorten federal election 2016 gladstone port labor

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