Queensland’s roads underfunded with little accountability, says auditor’s report

The Queensland Audit Office (QAO) has delivered a damning report into the condition of the state’s roads. It says chronic underfunding by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) threatens the viability of the entire roads system.

“The underfunding has resulted in risks to the sustainability of the transport network,” says the report. “The overall condition of the transport network falls well short of DTMR’s target standards.

“DTMR forecasts that the renewal backlog on the state-controlled road network will exceed $9 billion over the next decade. Without alternative strategies to address the funding issues, DTMR faces a risk that it will not be able to maintain or improve service standards on the transport network to meet Queensland’s future needs.”

The report also blasts DTMR for its failure to release any plans about the future of the road network.

“DTMR’s currently-approved and published transport coordination plan covers the period 2008–2018. DTMR has developed three draft plans—in 2011, 2013, and 2016. It did not publish the 2011 and 2013 versions because of changes in government. It did, however, use the 2013 draft for internal decision-making purposes, until it drafted its most recent plan.

“In October 2016, DTMR released a draft of its Transport Coordination Plan 2016–2026 for public consultation. Between June and September 2017, DTMR’s Transport Coordination Plan 2017–2027 was approved by both its ministers, but the plan has not yet been tabled in parliament or published on DTMR’s website.

“Because DTMR has not been able to publish any of three draft transport coordination plans it has prepared since 2008, DTMR is not being held to account publicly for its performance against all its current transport coordination plan objectives. For example, DTMR does not currently publish performance results for any of the community connectivity or environment and sustainability measures it has in its Transport Coordination Plan 2017–2027.”

News agency AAP reports that a spokesman for Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey saids the Government would have a “close look” at the QAO report.

But new Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the report showed the Government had no plan to build the roads the state needed because it couldn’t even keep up with fixing existing ones.

The QAO report is available here.

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