Spending $5 billion on a road-rail project in Brisbane so commuters can get another 10 minutes of breakfast TV is frivolous when transport infrastructure in the North West is crying out for funds, the Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter said today.
“I question how the $5 billion to be build a 5.4km road and rail link for the Brisbane Cross River Rail project is going to contribute to our economy when we have a 977km rail line between Mount Isa and Townsville which is crumbling.
“The Inlander train service should be running at 80 km/h, but such is the poor condition of the track they are running at an average of 40 km/h.
“Compare that with the current rail speed limit on the Brisbane-Gold Coast line of 140km/h.
“Can you imagine the outcry if every train in Brisbane ran at an average of 40km/h like they do on the Inlander rail?
“The maintenance on the Mount Isa to Townsville line has slowly degraded over the past 20 years.
“There are ‘slow down’ signs all along that rail line.
“‘Slow down’ signs mean there is not as much capacity on the line, so we are putting more trucks on the road to carry everything.
“This means the Flinders Highway is now suffering untold damage because it now has a lot more volume.
Now when I drive along the Flinders Highway I experience ‘slow down’ signs along the way because the government says it does not have enough money to keep up with the maintenance.
“Yet they have managed to find $5 billion, which I strongly argue would be better spent on improving regional road and rail.
“Upgrading the rail line and roads along the supply chain between Mount Isa and Townsville helps stimulate a region that contributes some $8 billion per annum to the state’s economy.
“There are a lot of regional areas like mine delivering a lot of growth and with industry potential, yet they are being overlooked because they’re not in the southeast corner.
“That deterioration with regard to energy, water, roads—whatever you want to talk about—in north-west Queensland is the big problem holding back our competitiveness,” said Mr Katter.