Macfarlane willing to stake political career on Range bypass

Federal Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane.
Federal Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane. Dave Noonan

MEMBER for Groom Ian Macfarlane said he was willing to stake his political career and reputation on the Range bypass being built.

Last year, federal opposition leader Tony Abbott committed $700 million to the project over three years if the Liberal Party won office at this year's federal election.

Mr Macfarlane, talking exclusively to The Chronicle, said he would not seek re-election at the 2016 federal election if the funding was not made available in the first budget under a new Coalition government.

"If we win office and if it is not delivered in the first budget of our new term then I will not seek re-election," Mr Macfarlane said.

"I will not stand again in the seat of Groom at the following election.

"I will stand by these words and statement to anybody who asks me.

"Tony Abbott is on the record in both Brisbane and Melbourne pledging $700 million towards the project.

"The funding is absolutely definite. It is 100 per cent locked in," he said.

Mr Macfarlane said he understood the proposed Range crossing had been a political football for the past three decades.

"It is one of four infrastructure projects we will embark on in our first term if we win office," he said.

"I am willing to stake my political career and reputation on the funding being announced in the first budget.

"It is not an election promise, it is a promise already."

Mr Macfarlane said he understood residents' reluctance to believe construction would start on the much-maligned project.

"The people of Toowoomba will either remember me for getting the Range crossing if we win the election, or not getting it if we lose," he said.

"But I am 100 per cent confident it will the former if we win."

Mr Macfarlane said the remainder of the funding towards the project would come from private enterprise and the State Government.

"It is implausible to think we would spend $700 million and not finish the project," he said.

"One way or another the Range crossing will be completed"

Mr Macfarlane defended claims he had not done enough to push for the Range crossing in previous years.

"During the Howard era, there was never really any great push, especially from both state and local government, for it to happen," he said.

"People said we needed one, but the level of support from government, was not really there as it is now.

"You have to understand, an infrastructure project of this scale in a sparsely populated area was simply unheard of at that time.

"I will admit it was bloody hard work to get the money that I did out of Howard towards the project.

"I have spilt a lot of blood over this and I am determined to see it through."

Topics:  funding, ian macfarlane, range crossing, toowoomba



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