George Christensen called a “nong” in Federal Parliament

MEMBER for Dawson George Christensen was called a "nong" in Federal Parliament yesterday during a heated exchange over funding for the long-awaited Mackay ring road.

But the man who stooped to the name-calling, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, could then not give a definitive answer to when construction of the road would start.

Forced to withdraw the "nong" comment, Mr Albanese could not confirm construction funding for the road would be allocated in the 2013-14 financial year.

His comments came after Mr Christensen asked Mr Albanese when the ring road would be funded.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, during a pre-budget visit to Mackay, gave a commitment there would be funding for the start of construction in the 2013-14 financial year.

Federal budget documents showed construction funding for the road would not be released until the Nation Building Two program begins in 2014-15.

Mr Albanese said that program would run over five years, to 2018-19, and could only confirm some $10 million funding for consultations on the road in the 2013-14 year. He said: "With regard to the funding that is in the budget, he also doesn't seem to understand that what you have is line items in the budget of funding for the Bruce Highway."

However, while line items in the Federal Budget usually attached specific figures to individual projects, the Bruce Hwy and Mackay ring road were mentioned without an actual sum attributed to them in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Mr Albanese hit out at Mr Christensen, citing an ad the LNP politician had produced showing the funding commitments. "Nation Building Two, you nong, it's in the ad," Mr Albanese said, before he withdrew the comment.

Mr Christensen said the minister was ignoring the need for at least $25 million to be spent to complete the design work for the road, and possibly an extra $25 million for land resumptions to make way for construction.

"The only commitment the Transport Minister gave under questioning was that the ring road construction could be funded sometime between the 2014-15 financial year and the 2018-19 financial year," he said.


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