Funding fight could delay Cross River Rail

Brisbane’s enduring Cross River Rail project looks set to be delayed further with the warring Queensland and federal governments at odds over whether it is ready to go.


The Palaszczuk government has committed $850 million to the project and is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to at least match that funding in next week’s federal budget.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said work could start later this year with that level of funding, but otherwise the $5.4 billion project, first mooted in 2010, could be delayed again.

“This project is a no-brainer to lift congestion. It’s a no-brainer for our economy to lift productivity and it’s a no-brainer to setting up Brisbane to be a global city in the 21st century,” Ms Trad said.

“The ultimate test of whether the Turnbull government isn’t just talk on infrastructure is whether there will be a capital expenditure line-item in the upcoming federal budget for Cross River Rail.”

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday reaffirmed his commitment to the project, but said planning had to be done in a “methodical, consistent way.”

“We have provided $10 million towards a proper business case and analysis of the project, so that the planning can be brought up to the right level,” he said.

“It is a complex business. It needs planning. It needs that work. We are committed to doing that.”

The state government provided the federal government with a full business case for the current proposal in 2016.

The federal government allocated $10 million for early planning works on the project, as well as ensuring it ties into Brisbane City Council’s Metro project.

Federal opposition infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese said the government had to fund the project to retain credibility.

“Here in this city we’ve known for some period of time that what is needed is a second crossing,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Brisbane.

But Queensland deputy opposition leader Deb Frecklington said Ms Trad’s comments amounted to “blackmail.”

“Annastacia Palaszczuk said in 2013 that Cross River Rail was ‘shovel-ready’ – that’s clearly not the case,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Once again we are seeing the Palaszczuk Labor government attempt to blackmail the federal government into funding its pipedreams.”

The Cross River Rail project has had several setbacks since being first proposed seven years ago.

Labor’s loss of power in 2012 saw it thrown out and replaced the next year by the Newman government’s BaT tunnel, but that plan was itself thrown out when it failed at the 2015 election.