End of line nowhere in sight in $230m rail dispute
More than two years of back and forth between the state and federal governments has failed to fix a $230 million shortfall in vital rail funding.
That is despite work having started on the long-awaited duplication of rail lines between Beerburrum and Nambour designed to give Coast residents more services to Brisbane.
When asked on Wednesday about where negotiations between the federal and state government were at, Fairfax MP Ted O'Brien said funding for the second phase of the project was yet to be committed by the State Government.
"But let's wait and see," Mr O'Brien said.
"There is an election coming up.
"Now could indeed be the time that the State Government decides to complete their part of the bargain."
He said the $390 million federal funding commitment to the rail line, announced in May 2018, was the first time in history such a federal spend had been promised for a rail line owned and operated by the State Government.
The sum amounted to 50 per cent of the project cost.
"We stand by that commitment," Mr O'Brien said.
"We need to make sure that residents and commuters on the Sunshine Coast are looked after and that is why we did something that was unprecedented at the time.
"We don't want an equity stake, we don't want to take control or ownership, but what we do want is see that work done.
The State Government then in June 2018 announced it would spend $160.8 million on the project, or 20 per cent.
The two governments have since argued over which tier should fund the remaining 30 per cent of the project.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the Beerburrum to Nambour upgrade was a key part of a plan to get more travellers into public transport.
Mr Bailey said the $160 million committed by the state had helped to get work under way but didn't see it as his government's responsibility to commit any more.
"We've always held the position that the Federal Government should put more funding into the Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade," Mr Bailey said.
"That position hasn't changed."
He said claims the Federal Government had already contributed more than it normally would for a rail project in Queensland didn't stack up.
"In Victoria, the Federal Government committed $750 million last year for a regional rail upgrade between South Geelong and Waurn Ponds on an 80:20 basis," he said.
"The Federal Government also said that it was prepared to invest $2 billion for a fast train between Melbourne and Geelong.
"In New South Wales, the Federal Government has committed $5.2 billion to the Western Sydney North Rail Link on a 50:50 basis."
He also referenced the creation of a new federal body to support investment in rail projects - the National Faster Rail Agency.
"When the time comes to discuss funding for stage two of this project, these examples clearly support our case for wanting a greater federal funding commitment for rail on the Sunshine Coast."