Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension to prime minister has been hailed as a game-changer for the transport plans of the 2018 Commonwealth Games host city.
The Queensland government opened up a tender process to build the second stage of the Gold Coast’s pivotal light rail project – only after the federal government committed to an in-principle agreement to provide funds.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the change in prime minister had been decisive in allowing a tender process to be undertaken quickly enough for construction to be completed before the games.
“We were able to reprosecute this case in a much more receptive environment,” Ms Trad said.
“That’s really important to understand.”
The extension will link the existing tram lines with the southeast Queensland rail network.
Local federal MP Steven Ciobo, who has previously criticised the state government’s business plan for the extension, said a change in policy on federal funding for urban transport projects following Tony Abbott’s demise had played a significant role in the development.
“I’ve never pretended otherwise,” Mr Ciobo said.
“The fact is that with the change in federal Liberal leadership … we’ve got a prime minister who is agnostic about forms of transport.
“The federal coalition is keen to be able to provide support to urban public transport.”
Both state and federal government commitments will be finalised following the tender process, which closes on December 23.
Queensland opposition infrastructure spokesman Tim Nicholls wants the state government to reveal how they’re going to pay for it.
He said Ms Trad should tell Queenslanders if she plans to borrow more or cut funding to other projects.
“This reeks of the unpreparedness and the haste with which this project has been put together by the Labor government,” Mr Nicholls said.
“It is incumbent on them to tell us where the money is coming from in this project.”
Ms Trad said the project was “absolutely” fully costed from a state government perspective.
Construction on the extension is expected to get under way in April 2016.