AN IMMEDIATE commitment to fund a vital inland highway is required from the State Government to spark Northern development, Robbie Katter says.
The State Member for Mount Isa wants a funding promise to complete the sealing of the Hann Highway, providing a continuous inland route from Cairns to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Mr Katter demanded the State Government make good on its promise to stimulate industry and jobs in regional Queensland by funding the $200 million Hann Highway project.
“We need the State Government to invest in industry-enabling infrastructure and that means immediately committing to the funding required to seal the Hann Highway,” he said.
“This is a nation-building project and we can’t wait any longer while the Federal Government sits on its hands and does nothing but talk about developing the North.”
The sealing of the Hann Highway would open up the development of the agriculture industry and deliver an alternative option to the much-maligned Bruce Highway.
“With the Hann Highway sealed the $4 billion banana industry can get its produce from Far North Queensland to the Melbourne and Sydney markets eight hours earlier, so it’s a huge advantage that would entice development in the industry in the North,” he said.
“It would also be of major benefit to stimulate industry through efficiencies and help curb the 15.1% unemployment rate in Outback Queensland.”
“If our country’s leaders are serious about developing Northern Australia, they need to be ticking off the funding required to complete the sealing of the Hann Highway.”
Mr Katter is yet to receive a reply to a letter sent in October last year to former Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss to visit the site for the project.
Invitations to meet with Mr Katter and key stakeholders of the Hann Highway project have been sent to Federal Minister for Infrastructure Fiona Nash, Federal Minister for Regional Development Darren Chester and Federal Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg.
Doubts will continue to be raised about the legitimacy of the Federal Government’s promise to focus on Northern development if the Hann Highway was not immediately funded, Mr Katter said.
“It’s great to see the focus on developing the North but unless we see real movement on key projects it will incite scepticism about the commitment to the plan,” he said.
“A commitment to the Hann Highway would make giant steps to achieving the goals set out in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.”
“Industry in North West Queensland can only move forward through investment in critical infrastructure such as this vital inland highway.”
“Sealing the Hann Highway would take B-Doubles off the Bruce Highway and make enormous cost and time savings for freight from North Queensland going down to Sydney and Melbourne.”
“One triple road train on the Hann Highway can take two B-Doubles off the Bruce Highway, making savings in road maintenance and improving safety.”