May 14, 2013

Question without notice – Bruce Highway

Mr SLIPPER (Fisher) (14:32): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Regional Development and Local Government and Leader of the House—and allow me to congratulate him on his additional responsibilities. Given the minister’s commendable announcements to date on improvements to the Bruce Highway involving an investment of over $4 billion, which has been applauded by the community, can the minister give a time frame for upgrading the Bruce Highway between Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast from four to six lanes to meet the needs of the area’s rapidly growing population? (Time expired)


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government) (14:33): I thank very much the member for his question and for his ongoing representations about the needs of people on the Sunshine Coast, particularly with regard to roads funding. Earlier this year, of course, I announced some $80 million in funding for a new interchange between the Bruce Highway, Roys Road and Bells Creek Road, and last month the Prime Minister and I were in Rockhampton with the member for Capricornia announcing our $4.1 billion plan for a better, safer Bruce Highway. That is real money for real projects that will make a real difference to local communities along the highway. On the Sunshine Coast, this will see the construction of a new flyover ramp to the Bruce Highway from the Sunshine Motorway. It will significantly improve safety and reduce congestion for people travelling on the Bruce Highway. It will also mean we can fast-track the next stage of Cooroy to Curra upgrade section A, where construction is on track to start next month. We have allocated $4.1 billion, making a total of $5.7 billion—four times what those opposite allocated when they were in government. We can do a range of projects that have been outlined, but we can do even more if the Queensland government comes to the party and puts up its fair share of funding, including widening the highway between Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast.

Three months ago, the opposition leader said that he would be making very substantial announcements about the Bruce Highway in coming weeks. That was three months ago. All we have heard since is radio silence, which is not surprising given the embarrassment of $1.3 billion over 12 long years of neglect that occurred under the former government. What this government has is a plan for our national road network that is about supporting jobs today through construction but also about making those productivity improvements—including, in the Sunshine Coast region just to the north, the Cooroy to Curra section B that was promised, funded, built and opened by this government after the former transport minister and local member to the north of Mr Slipper’s electorate described it as the worst section of road in Australia. Those opposite have been driving up and down the highway but not making any commitments at all—no commitments. The Leader of the National Party said $8 billion one day, and then it went back to $1 billion under Joe Hockey, the shadow Treasurer. And now we know that they are saying no commitment at all.