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Labor versus Labor: Dick refuses to support Minister over infrastructure

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Treasurer Cameron Dick has refused to say he has confidence in the federal Infrastructure Minister Katherine King after huge cuts to major Queensland projects were announced yesterday.

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About $7 billion was cut from project delivery and Dick said that was on top of the $5.7 billion in cuts to water infrastructure previously announced.

The most recent announcement meant nine projects were cut and a further five put on hold while further planning work was done. That included the extension of heavy rail into the Sunshine Coast.

Dick said Queensland would also be potentially $1 billion worse off if the Government shelved a policy that no state would be worse off under GST fund distribution. The policy is under review by the Productivity Commission.

On Radio National this morning the Treasurer was given several chances to say he had confidence in King and would not do so. He said her judgement on the issue was wrong and also rejected her claims that there were no cuts to Queensland funding.

“If projects cost more and they cut funding then that’s a cut. That’s going to mean many billions of dollars for projects that were going ahead,” he said.

He said the Federal Government decision to move to a 50:50 funding arrangement from the previous 80:20 was also a cut.

“This is a big problem for us and we are making our position clear,” he said.

“We will have to work out what’s going to be cut. We won’t accept responsibility for cutting projects,” he said.

“Maybe she  should come to Mackay and to talk to the people about the impact of cuts to road funding,” he said.

Asked if he was resorting to Canberra bashing ahead of the election in Queensland next year, Dick said he was standing up for Queensland which was facing pressures relating to population growth.

He also said he had spoken to his federal counterpart Jim Chalmers and revealed a Queensland delegation of business groups, government and councils would go to Canberra to protest the cuts.

The cuts follow advice from the International Monetary Fund to cut expenditure on infrastructure to take pressure off inflation. The infrastructure industry has also complained in the past that government projects were crowding out the private sector.

 

 

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