Touring PM hopes to get voters on board

THERE'S nothing more annoying than federal politicians whose seats are held in NSW or Victoria who think they know what Queenslanders want.

But then they rub salt in the wound by telling the state it has received its fair share, only then to keep building and investing in southern states.

As if it couldn't get any worse, then dwell on the fact that in Queensland we have a State Government that submits business cases and signals they will fund them - only to go all shy once the Commonwealth expresses an interest in chipping in.

Welcome to Queensland - beautiful one day, choking with congestion the next.

With Scott Morrison's feet under The Lodge's table now for the past couple of months, we can no longer call him the "new PM". And given he was Treasurer in the Turnbull Government he knows better than most which states are getting the most for infrastructure.

There's no doubt Morrison has hit the ground running in announcing infrastructure projects, including some in Queensland (and extra funding for Gold Coast light rail today) but there's a long way to go - especially since the Commonwealth is investing up to $5.3 billion in equity in Western Sydney Airport.

Queensland voters will look to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to fund better state infrastructure. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Queensland voters will look to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to fund better state infrastructure. Picture: Dylan Robinson

Queensland is a decentralised state - there's no other state like it. We drive further distances as a matter of course. That's more wear and tear on our roads and vehicles. Trucks rip up and down them because we do not have a system in Australia to get food and fibre to northern Australia, other than tyres to bitumen.

Ridiculously, every year during the wet season, trucks bank up near Tully because there has not been enough flood-proofing for a foreseeable annual event that prevents North Queenslanders at times getting the fresh food and vegetables they need.

To be really parochial, one of the reasons there's more pressure on infrastructure in parts of the state is because of the southern sea and tree changers who decided to pack up and make new lives in Queensland.

And as the "mummy taxi" sit in traffic in southeast Queensland they are also starting to boil over at the cost of fuel.

Fuel is now at a 10-year high. Yes, it is mostly because of high, world oil prices and Australia's falling dollar. But it also leaves a bad taste in voters' mouths that in 2014 the then Abbott government re-introduced biannual indexation of fuel excise.

Morrison is right to say that this is not what has caused fuel to hit $1.80 a litre. But projections in the 2014 Budget revealed the extra cash would bring in more than $4 billion over the forwards (although almost half was offset by rebates paid to those in agriculture and mining).

It’ll take more than campaign slogans to win votes.
It’ll take more than campaign slogans to win votes.

The extra money is supposed to be hypothecated to paying for infrastructure. So no government should be getting a happy clap for infrastructure maintenance.

Our sister paper The Courier-Mail's landmark Future SEQ campaign revealed last month how bad it will be for parents, businesses and tourists if there is not significant investment in road infrastructure in the state. When the South East Queensland Council of Mayors paid for modelling to determine what it would be like to drive on eight key roads in about a decade, the projections were shocking. It showed without serious investment, southeast Queensland will be one big traffic jam.

Now that's a vote loser at any election but it's more than that.

When big business look to invest and where to bring their staff, they often consider a city's liveability. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is an investment killer. But as residents, imagine adding another 30 minutes to an hour to a journey to get to work or drop off the kids.

I can hear people wailing "take public transport!". But tell that to a mum or dad who have to drop off kids at more than one school or daycare and then get themselves to work.

Telling working parents to take public transport is enough to cause a different type of road rage.

And then there's people's biggest investment - their homes. While it is likely capital in their homes will grow, the rate it will grow at could depend on traffic in and out of their suburb.

The Coalition's Federal Team Queensland - the 26 parliamentarians who sit in Canberra's party room - need to demand more from Morrison heading into the next election.

With a May Budget now looking unlikely because of a looming election (instead possibly an economic statement would be made in February), Morrison needs to know that to hang on to The Lodge he needs to hold the seats he has in Queensland.

And what Queenslanders want is better infrastructure. Morrison needs to be in Queensland more often with his hard hat and chequebook to prove he is really "Backing Queenslanders".

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