Toowoomba by-pass in jeopardy as Feds backtrack on promise

The plans look good for the second range crossing but will government arguments mean it doesn't go ahead?
The plans look good for the second range crossing but will government arguments mean it doesn't go ahead?

A ROW has developed between the Australian and Queensland Governments which threatens the timing of the proposed Toowoomba Second Range crossing.

The Federal Government has frozen funding to the project with each side blaming the other.

Earlier this year a gaggle of Federal and State minister gathered in Toowoomba to announce the $1.6b project, with $1.28b of that federal money and the balance to come from state coffers.

The projected completion date for the long-promised infrastructure was 2018.

Now it seems that date is in jeopardy and both parties are scrambling for the high moral ground amid feverish backtracking.

At issue is a further $123m which the Federal Government said Queensland had now asked for.

Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said this request was despite Queensland's own projections of a surplus of "hundreds of millions of dollars" on toll revenue which the state would pocket.

"It also appears that Queensland plans to defer its own expenditure on the project for eight years," Mr Truss said.

Mr Truss said Queensland had given them "scant information" on the financial assumptions behind the project despite many months of repeated requests.

"This week's letter to the Queensland Treasury is the latest of several letters requesting this information," he said.

 Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls said Canberra had frozen funds for the Crossing and he had requested a meeting with Mr Truss to find out why.

"We are quite disturbed over what the reason is.  It hasn't been made clear to us," Mr Nicholls said.

Mr Nicholls said the Queensland government remained committed to the project.

"We've got $342 million in our budget," he said.

"We have been working very hard to make sure the paperwork is in place and we can get going in building this vital project."

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland has put the blame on the Feds, demanding Canberra sticks to its core election commitment of funding the Crossing.

CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Nick Behrens said the decision to freeze funding commitment was potentially a huge blow for Queensland's business community.

"The second range crossing for Toowoomba was a core election promise to Queensland during last year's election campaign," Mr Behrens said.

"It is extremely disappointing that the Federal Government is now reneging on its commitment."

The hold-up comes just weeks after the State Government chose three consortiums to bid for the Request for Proposal stage of the project.

Topics:  federal government queensland government toowoomba second range crossing

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