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Article: Show us your plans, engineers tell pollies

Started by ozbob, March 16, 2009, 15:28:26 PM

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From the Brisbanetimes click here!

Show us your plans, engineers tell pollies

QuoteShow us your plans, engineers tell pollies
Daniel Hurst | March 16, 2009 - 12:28PM

The organisation representing civil engineering contractors in Queensland has warned the industry faces mass job losses if the next state government axes infrastructure projects.

The Civil Contractors Federation sounded the alarm after Labor Infrastructure Minister Paul Lucas and his Liberal National Party counterpart Fiona Simpson faced off in a pre-election debate at the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane this morning.

The State Government and Opposition have both promised not to cut the $17 billion in budgeted spending on roads, rail and public works this financial year, but industry leaders said they remained largely in the dark about what may happen in the next budget.

"We're seeing job losses now and by the middle of this year, unless something urgent is done, we'll potentially see some contracting firms wind their operations up," said Robert Row, chief executive officer of the Civil Contractors Federation Queensland branch.

More than 150 engineering and construction industry leaders gathered in the Stamford Plaza's Grand Ballroom for a breakfast debate hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

As the election campaign entered its final week, Mr Lucas and Ms Simpson clashed over which party was best placed to plan and complete infrastructure projects in the tough times ahead.

Ms Simpson launched an attack on Labor's record over the past 11 years, pointing to cost blowouts, poor project scoping and a failure to plan ahead.

"If you can't plan, build and do the right thing in the good times, how can you be trusted to do the right thing in the tough times?" she asked.

Mr Lucas defended the State Government's record, saying it had committed to the biggest building program in the country and had drawn up a $100 billion infrastructure plan for South-East Queensland to deal with strong population growth over the next 20 years.

The Deputy Premier said the Tugun Bypass was one of many projects the Government had delivered, while the Gateway Bridge duplication was under way.

"You just pick a town and I can tell you projects we've done," he said.

Ms Simpson ridiculed the Government's plan to contribute $60 million towards a new AFL stadium at Carrara on the Gold Coast, insisting the money would be better spent improving health services.

"We believe the priorities of government have been wrong under Labor," she said.

"Our focus is on fixing health and fixing road congestion."

But Mr Lucas mocked the Opposition for suggesting its proposal to cut government wastage by three per cent would not affect frontline public sector jobs.

He questioned which staff members would be classed as frontline employees.

"What are you going to do - have the doctors mopping the floors?" he asked.

Mr Lucas accused the Liberal National Party of making promises it had no intention of keeping, such as the Redcliffe railway line, and said its policies relied on "conspiracy theories and Magic Pudding financing".

Ms Simpson hit back, saying public servants had already contacted her identifying wasteful spending that could be better directed elsewhere.

"There needs to be reform: more bitumen and less paper," she told the audience.

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg yesterday unveiled a $727 million package to deliver infrastructure projects sooner, including $260 million for the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project and $93 million for the Bus Rapid Transit project in Brisbane, to be allocated next financial year.

Industry leaders welcomed the announcement but said they wanted both major parties to provide more details about their plans for the future.

"We were probably disappointed we didn't hear more about what the next financial year would look like in terms of infrastructure spend," Mr Row of the Civil Contractors Federation said.

"Clearly with all of the financial concerns around, globally, federally and at a state level, we've got every right to be very concerned."
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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