Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has hit back at a statement issued by the Katter Australian Party (KAP) which he says is full of emotive language, factual inaccuracies and bizarre thought-bubbles.

“While this kind of rhetoric isn’t a surprise from the KAP, this statement has more holes than a tea-pot strainer so I wouldn’t be doing my job as the local MP if I didn’t respond,” Mr Pitt said.

Let’s look at this line by line:

“…Launceston has eight overpasses and 24,000 people. Compare that to nearly a million people in North Queensland and three overpasses.”

“Launceston has more than 106,000 people* and the idea that road planning should be based on the number of overpasses per people in an area beggars belief. Next we’ll be hearing that the KAP’s economic policy is based on chook raffles,” Mr Pitt said.

“Further, the combined populations of North and Far North Queensland would be only a little over 500,000*. Again, these figures have been plucked out of the air.”

“…a high-speed freeway that would destroy 1,000 businesses along Mulgrave Rd…”

“The final Bruce Highway Upgrade Master Plan has fewer than 100 property impacts in total. There are no resumptions in the first stage which got underway late last year,” Mr Pitt said.

“And I’m pretty sure a count of businesses on Mulgrave Road would not be in the order of a thousand.”

“…an upgrading of Mulgrave Road to facilitate business access, would allow Mulgrave Road to do its proper job.…”

“I’m not sure why they keep talking about Mulgrave Road because it’s a state-controlled road that begins after the Bruce Highway ends at the turn-off to Ray Jones Drive. I think somebody should donate a GPS to the KAP to help them find their way on this one,” Mr Pitt said.

“… the bureaucrats will not override the will of the people in this matter…”

“More than two years of consultation occurred on the agreed highway upgrade plan and there was overwhelming public support to get on with it and upgrade the existing highway,” Mr Pitt said.

“No person who lives in White Rock, Mt Sheridan, Bentley Park or Edmonton will benefit from the KAP proposal. These residents make up more than two thirds of total traffic and are bearing the brunt of traffic congestion problems.

“A second corridor would not alleviate this congestion so the existing corridor would still need to be upgraded, plus they’d have to drive south to Wrights Creek to get onto the new highway.”

Mr Pitt slammed the KAP proposal to ‘de-main the main road’ as irresponsible and bizarre.

“If an alternative route was to go ahead, the current Bruce Highway would cease being the national highway and would not attract federal government funding for future upgrades and maintenance,” Mr Pitt said.

“Upgrading the existing Bruce Highway makes it possible to undertake upgrades in several small stages, but this would not be possible with the second corridor option as the roads and bridges would need to be constructed in their entirety before providing any relief for existing traffic issues on the current highway.

“In the case of the Edmonton Traders, with respect, it may also be the first time I’ve ever heard of business people wanting to send potential customers away from their businesses and completely bypass their town.

“Everyone can see that Edmonton is growing and upgrading the existing highway is the best way to service this growth.

“The Bruce Highway Upgrade Master Plan has also been designed with the future community of Mt Peter in mind so that we can cater for the 50,000 or so new residents that will make the area their home in the next couple of decades.

“The Southern Cairns Integrated Land Use and Transport Study (SCILUTS) carried out between 1999 and 2001 considered and ruled out the option of a second highway in the short to long term.

“Due mainly to environmental impacts, the community and the government of the day determined the best option for Cairns was to upgrade the current highway and provide high quality multi-modal transport options, including improved public transport.”

Mr Pitt said this was not the first time the KAP has put forward a hare-brained position.

“This time last year in a two-page spread in The Cairns Post, the KAP candidate reckons he could build a new health facility at Edmonton for $25 million,” Mr Pitt said.

“Based on this price tag, their facility would have no surgery capacity, no ED capacity and no capacity as an alternate site in the event of a disaster, including being built for high cyclone capacity.

“The Katter Party’s proposal to build a $25 million facility could simply not provide the services needed. They have no idea of what the real costs are, not to mention they have no idea how they’d fund it. And it takes a hell of a lot of chook raffles to raise $25 million.”

Mr Pitt said he’d worked hard to secure the land for a future health facility at Edmonton and the facility had already been announced in the Queensland Infrastructure Plan.”

* Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 31 March 2011.