Both Labor and Coalition agree on $100m boost for light rail
THE Gold Coast light rail's controversial $660 million extension to Burleigh Heads will go ahead no matter who wins May's federal election.
The Bulletin can reveal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will this morning visit the Gold Coast and commit $112 million to Light Rail Stage 3A.
Labor's funding matches that made by the Morrison Government in November and means that the tram extension is now certain.
Mr Shorten said the 6.4km extension would create more than 2400 jobs for the city.
"This project will be critical to supporting future growth and revitalisation of the Burleigh Heads and Nobby Beach precincts," he said.
"The Coalition has been more focused on its internal battles than on delivering the services that make life easier for people.
"We will invest in the rail and road projects that will help people get out of traffic jams and home sooner to their families.''
The election-eve funding commitment brings the tram extension one step closer to becoming a reality.
The State Government and Gold Coast City Council have both vowed to fund the public transport link but are yet to commit funds.
Council is expected to chip in between $66 million and $72 million while the Palaszczuk Government will provide the remainder through its underwriting of tram operator GoldLinQ.
Mr Morrison visited the Coast last year to announce the Coalition's funding, which was first revealed in an explosive budget leak.
"This is the largest single investment of a commonwealth government in a light rail project anywhere in the country," he said at the time.
Opposition infrastructure and transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said traffic congestion was having a damaging impact on the economy.
"It's acting as a hand brake on productivity and economic growth," he said.
"To build a stronger economy we need to reduce traffic congestion right around the nation and supporting better public transport to get cars off the road is a critical part of that.''
Stage 3A will include eight new stations, upgraded pedestrian and cycling facilities and an upgraded bus interchange at Burleigh Heads.
It is expected to create 2400 jobs during construction and up to 39 per year once operational.
The tram extension will be complete, and operational by 2023 and will only take travellers 16 minutes to travel between the existing Broadbeach South Station and North Burleigh Heads.
The proposed Stage 3B will connect Burleigh Heads to Gold Coast Airport.
Mr Shorten's funding commitment comes weeks after the NSW State Government announced a business case into a Tweed Heads to Gold Coast Airport light rail link which will connect with the G-Link.
The two-stage project would also include a further extension to Tweed Heads South.
The Bulletin late last year obtained stunning results from independent research conducted for the State Government business case which showed:
* 86 per cent of residents across the Gold Coast support stage 3A to Burleigh and 91 per cent back stage 3B to Coolangatta.
* 72 per cent living in the future Broadbeach-Burleigh corridor support 3A and 75 per cent approve of 3B.
* 80 per cent of businesses in the future corridor support 3A and 83 per cent back 3B.
* September 2018 - $112M federal funding proposal for tram extension revealed in major budget leak
* November 2018 - Prime Minister Scott Morrison visits Gold Coast and confirms funding for Stage 3A
* December 2018 - Results of State Government and council business case reveals mass support for extension
* Today - Opposition Leader Bill Shorten confirms Labor will match funding
* What's next - State Government and council to commit funds.
* Late 2019/early 2020 - Construction begins on stage 3A.