Federal Labor has thrown its support behind a host of Queensland projects but a new stadium for Townsville isn’t one of them.
Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten unveiled the party’s ambitious plan for a $10 billion “concrete bank” for new public works that would help elicit investment from the private sector, including Australia’s $4 trillion superannuation savings.
Under the proposal, Infrastructure Australia would be at the centre of capital investment in the same manner the Reserve Bank is the independent authority at the centre of monetary policy.
“Our plan is about transforming Infrastructure Australia from a passive body receiving proposals, to an active participant in the infrastructure and financing market,” he said in a speech to the Queensland Media Club.
A number of the projects on Labor’s national to-do list involve Queensland, including Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, Gold Coast Light Rail stage two, the Ipswich Motorway and the Bruce Highway.
But a notable omission is a new Townsville stadium, which North Queensland Cowboy’s co-captain Johnathan Thurston called for in his post-NRL Grand Final victory speech.
Mr Shorten praised the sportsman’s enthusiasm but stopped short of committing fully to the project.
“We’re favourably disposed but we’re not committed yet,” he said.
The state government has already promised $100 million to the project, while the NRL and Townsville City Council have also supported it to varying degrees.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk praised Mr Shorten’s announcement and said it would create jobs across Australia.
“It’s great that he is now moving in the direction of prioritising infrastructure,” she said.
But her Liberal National Party opponent Tim Nicholls dismissed the proposal as little more than a “thought bubble”.