The Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter, reporting direct from today’s Regional Roads Forum at Hughenden, closely followed by the North West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (QROC) meeting, also in Hughenden, said it’s time for the Government to build.
“It’s very gratifying that the new Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark Bailey, is here today to listen to Outback Queensland,” Mr Katter said.
“The people of Queensland are hurting, and that is obvious at this kind of forum.
“There’s an enormous appetite for people to see the Government engaging in industry building activity and producing infrastructure such as roads and dams, not stadiums and traffic tunnels.
“Roads are the lifeblood of rural economies and they improve our competitiveness in industry, therefore the Hann Highway presents itself as a terrific opportunity for Government to engage in that space.”
Mr Katter said the Hann Highway was a project of state-wide significance, cutting 8 hours off the Cairns to Melbourne road trip.
“People outside the electorate – such as Advance Cairns – are here today pushing for it as much as people inside the electorate.
“Over a two year period the Bruce Highway was cut off over 160 times; that has big implications for our producers up north.
“The banana industry alone in the Far North is worth $360m a year. If those banana trucks get cut off on the Bruce Highway and can’t get their produce to Melbourne, Coles and Woolworths may win the fight to import bananas.”
Mr Katter said the Hann Highway was a cost-effective piece of infrastructure on so many levels.
“It will reduce wear and tear on the coast, taking the B Doubles off the Bruce Highway, and putting triple road trains on the Hann Highway.
“It will cost $89m to build the Hann Highway, out of a $60b roads budget. It’s a more productive asset than a $5b traffic tunnel in Brisbane.
“Roads are also the best, most cost effective way for the Government to stimulate the rural economy in this current climate; giving the road building jobs to local councils, creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.”