23 May 2023

State and federal politicians clash over PDR works

| Matt Nicholls
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The PDR works have slowed down due to contractor issues and a prolonged wet season.

The PDR works have slowed down due to contractor issues and a prolonged wet season.

A WAR of words has erupted between two senior politicians over the progress of the Peninsula Developmental Road, ending the project’s long harmonious run between Labor and the LNP.

With works appearing to slow down following an unprogressive year at the Archer River, long-time federal LNP MP Warren Entsch took aim at the state government, while state Labor Minister Mark Bailey hit back, claiming it was his advocacy that kept the pool of federal funding in the budget.

Both MPs disagree with each other’s version of events regarding the funding.

Under the arrangement, 80 per cent of the funding comes from the federal government, while 20 per cent is state-funded.

Mr Entsch says the previous administration, led by Scott Morrison, had always allocated a large portion of funding towards the Cape York Regional Package, now in its second stage.

However, Mr Bailey disagrees, saying that the previous federal administration had cut funding for the CYRP and that he had to lobby his Canberra counterparts to keep money in the budget.

“While Warren Entsch was absent, the Morrison government proposed cutting the program,” the Minister for Transport and Main Roads said.

“I made it a condition of the state government’s signature on Inland Rail that a full Stage 2 had to be funded and that is what we achieved.”

Mr Entsch took exception to the claim, saying that if the money for the PDR was getting cut, he would have known about it.

“What he said was totally wrong,” the Member for Leichhardt said.

“My people would have made it very clear to me because they know how much I have fought for the funding and how much I would continue to fight for it.

“As far as I’m concerned, the money for the PDR is in the budget and there’s still a lot of money to be spent in Round 2, which goes until 2025-26.

“Mark Bailey’s claim that he put his jocks on the outside and helped save $260 million to be kept in the budget is total rubbish.”

READ ALSO TMR keeps motorists in the dark over major road closure

At a public meeting held in Weipa last week, the Department of Transport and Main Roads admitted that projects at the Archer River had not gone exactly to plan.

Decmil has walked away from the southern approaches, with the state government body RoadTek to complete the job this year.

McConnell Dowell is back at the Archer and resuming work on the bridge, which is expected to be completed this year.

More funding may be needed to complete the job.

“While additional funding may be required for the bridge project, subject to federal government approval, TMR has requested full allocation of future priorities funding for the project be allocated to the PDR CYRP Stage 2,” Mr Bailey said on Monday.

At Weipa, Mr Entsch queried the delay in a planned sealing project south of Coen, between Three Sisters and Yarraden.

Tenders went out for the job in January, but there has been no contract awarded.

“I have spoken to two of the companies who applied and they were told to expect an answer by April,” Mr Entsch said.

“We’re now in the middle of May and TMR couldn’t give me a straight answer about when the contract would be awarded.

“It’s disappointing because we know about the wet season and that we have a limited time to get work done.

“All of this should have been done in advance of the dry period so they could get cracking as soon as the rain stopped.”

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