Drone photos from early 2019 of the western side of Aura near Bells Creek Arterial Road.
Drone photos from early 2019 of the western side of Aura near Bells Creek Arterial Road.

‘Handout to Stockland’: $35m pledge causes controversy

Both major parties have been accused of promising a $35 million handout to developer Stockland for a Sunshine Coast road upgrade the company would've completed anyway.

Queensland Labor and the Liberal National Party both promised $35 million towards the $70 million stage of the Bells Creek Arterial Road upgrade, to "bust congestion" on Caloundra Rd and connect it to the Bruce Highway.

Greens candidate for Caloundra Raelene Ellis said the funding was a handout,

because Stockland was already required to complete the road upgrade.

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It means Stockland's total spend on the three-stage upgrade will be slashed from $115 million to $80 million.

"It's social welfare for the rich," she said during the Sunshine Coast Daily's Caloundra election forum on Tuesday.

"The LNP is promising $35 million and giving it as a handout to Stockland for something they were already required to do."

Greens candidate for Caloundra Raelene Ellis has questioned why government funding was promised for the Bells Creek Arterial Road upgrade.
Greens candidate for Caloundra Raelene Ellis has questioned why government funding was promised for the Bells Creek Arterial Road upgrade.

The upgrade includes an 11km extension of Bells Creek Arterial Rd to link to the Bruce Highway at Roys Rd and is expected to ease pressure on Caloundra Rd.

Caloundra MP Mark McArdle rejected the claim the funding was a handout.

"I reject the claims entirely," he said.

"They are based on a childish understanding of what the LNP is attempting to do to provide a faster, quicker more efficient process of moving around that area."

Mr McArdle said the public funding would bring the project forward by 10 years.

He said the upgrade, expected to take two years to build, would benefit the entire region and increase business productivity.

"It's not a handout," he said.

"It is in essence a step to bust congestion on Caloundra Rd."

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the government funding would allow construction to start before Christmas, and create 314 direct jobs.

He said accelerating the delivery of the project would unlock $300 million of additional investment.

"The government's investment has brought forward this project by many years - and we've done that to bring forward jobs now to support our economic recovery," Mr Bailey said.

He said the road was estimated to reduce travel time by 30 per cent for 50,000 motorists who used Caloundra Rd everyday and reduce travel time between Kawana and Beerburrum by about 13 minutes.

Labor's Caloundra candidate Jason Hunt said the investment would provide much needed jobs for the region.   "By making this investment we will create another 314 jobs at a time our community needs it most," he said.    "I make no apologies for that." 

The $115 million three-stage road project was announced in 2015 as part of a $1.3 billion infrastructure agreement between Stockland, the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council.

Stockland Aura project director Josh Sondergeld said earlier this month that the project was not required to be built until after 2030, but had been brought forward.

Following the completion of the first stage, a 2.8km stretch in 2017, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the infrastructure agreement "comes at no cost to the ratepayer".

Stockland's $5 billion Aura development covers 24 square kilometres and includes the construction of more than 20,000 homes over three decades.



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