Andrews rejects tram funds
A federal MP has made the rare decision not to pledge new funding to her region ahead of the election.
McPherson MP Karen Andrews has asked for no federal funding be directed to the next stage of the Gold Coat’s light rail project.
Ms Andrews has told Palm Beach residents that she has “deep concerns” about the project to extend light rail from Burleigh Heads south along the Gold Coast Highway.
“I've not met one local resident who thinks that reducing the Gold Coast Highway to one lane each way to accommodate light rail is a good idea,” she said.
She said the funding would risk “damaging businesses, creating longer-term traffic issues and impacting the amenity of those living on side streets with a route through Burleigh Hill, Palm Beach and Currumbin that didn't work for the community”.
“With your support, we can stop stage 4 from destroying the southern Gold Coast,” she told residents.
The estimated $2.7 billion costs of the Burleigh to Coolangatta link was to be split between federal, state, and local governments, but has been met with significant community opposition over fears it could impact amenity, local business, and culturally significant sites.
Ms Andrews says she has formally requested Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher that “no federal funding be directed to this project as it stands”.
A state government survey of more than 1,000 locals found 64 per cent supported the project last year.
“I'm absolutely sympathetic and empathetic to the people of Palm Beach who feel they have not been listened to,” Ms Andrews said.
“I will not sit by while their views are steamrolled.”
Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate has unleashed on what he sees as an “arrogant” reversal of support, saying he had “never been this disappointed in the political arena”.
“This project has been planned for 20 years, we've been building it for 10, if she was adamant about it, why didn't she jump up and down at stage 1?” Mr Tate said.
“It's ludicrous to have stage 1, 2 and 3 fully funded by all three tiers of government and go, well, now it's in my backyard I don't want stage 4.
“I've never been this disappointed in the political arena since I've been mayor in the past 10 years.
“How arrogant is that [timing] to go two weeks out, polling has opened.”
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the region needs the new infrastructure.
“Population growth will mean the Gold Coast will be in gridlock unless we have a better public transport system,” he said.
“The logical place to build that is down the Gold Coast Highway where it suits the most number of people.
“It was actually the Morrison government that co-funded the business case around stage 4 taking light rail to the airport and now they're going against their own funding,” he said.
Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher says the Commonwealth has not committed funding for stage 4.
Mr Tate says he still anticipates that the project will go ahead as planned, but has also urged residents not to vote for either of the major parties in the senate.