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Qld’s budget plea: Billions needed for roads as death toll skyrockets

Billions of dollars will need to be committed in the federal budget to fast-track critical transport infrastructure in Queensland and stem the growing road death toll, the RACQ has said.

Listing a dozen infrastructure projects in its federal budget wish list, RACQ public policy head Rebecca Michael said an estimated $15bn over the forward estimates is needed to accommodate the state’s booming population.

Already 98 people have died on Queensland’s roads this year, 32 per cent more than in the same period last year.

The RACQ’s budget wishlist includes increased and fast-tracked funding for the Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Cairns, funding for the proposed “Second Bruce” inland route and a dedicated program to upgrade level crossings across southeast Queensland.

Ms Michael said the level crossing upgrades and funding rail capacity improvements for the Kuraby to Beenleigh, and Beerburrum to Nambour rail lines is needed in light of a possible 2032 Olympic Games being held in the state.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner urged further support from the Federal Government on the Olympic Games bid.

“Our Olympics proposal and Brisbane’s economic recovery go hand-in-hand,” Cr Schrinner said.

“The Federal Government’s generous funding pledge towards the Games will be a crucial boost for roads, infrastructure and job creation not just now and in the lead up to the Games but into the future.”

He also said there needed to be further stimulus for businesses still struggling due to the pandemic.

Continued investment in Black Spot and Roads to Recovery programs is also on the council’s Budget wishlist.

Infrastructure Association of Queensland (IAQ) chair Terry Rossitto has called for the government to provide greater clarity on the new Olympic Infrastructure Agency, which is part of the Commonwealth’s requirement to the state under the 50/ 50 funding split for the Games bid.

“At a macro level, the Federal Government has the opportunity to invest in the next generation of visionary and legacy creating infrastructure projects,” he said.

“A focus on productivity-enhancing infrastructure will promote rapid economic recovery and industry growth. A unique opportunity exists to deliver on long term infrastructure reform opportunities including ways in which to involve greater private sector investment.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland economic policy advisor Jack Baxter said there were three key priorities the state’s business community wanted to see out of the federal budget, tax reform, investment in skills and training, as well as investment in “transformational infrastructure” like high-speed rail.

Mr Baxter said removing fringe benefits tax on entertainment related activities for small business would help stimulate demand in CBDs, which were still suffering the impacts of the pandemic.

“If there’s ever a time to bring forward reforms, now is the time,” he said.

He urged the government to extend the 50 per cent wage subsidies for apprentices, while investment was needed to better match skills shortages in the economy with vocational training.

Mr Baxter said the accelerating commitments already given on the Olympics would assist with economic recovery, and projects like high-speed rail would have long-term benefits.

Madura McCormack and Matt Killoran, Courier Mail

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