Shadow Minister for Main Roads and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the Bruce Highway ‘Crisis Management Group’ is simply playing catch up.
“To be fair, Campbell Newman did at least tell people ahead of time that he wouldn’t have a plan until after the election,” Mr Pitt said.
“What he didn’t say is that they’re going to spend six months talking about what everybody already knows, and that they’d ask the obvious questions all over again.
“The group is finally meeting for the first time next week – nearly three months after the election.
“And I can predict what the group will conclude already – that we need more funding for the Bruce Highway. What a revelation!”
Mr Pitt said he was seeking clarification about the report in The Cairns Post today which said that Crisis Group members Warren Entsch and Bob Manning would ‘push for improvements to Wrights Creek Bridge.’
“The $10 million in federal funding for widening and improvement of Wrights Creek Bridge was announced in December last year and in recent weeks has been signed off by the Federal Government,” Mr Pitt said.
“Excavation work has commenced this week and the project is due for completion by the end of 2012.
“What improvements exactly will they be pushing for? The project to fix Wrights Creek Bridge is already being delivered and has been funded by Labor.
“Instead of trying to take credit for work that has not only already been announced but is underway, what Mr Entsch and Mr Manning should do is ask Warren Truss to explain why he sat by and watched as the Howard Government starved Queensland of roads funding for a decade.
“I’d like to be a fly on the wall to hear him explain why the average was around $100 million per year funding under the Liberals/Nationals when compared to around $400 million under Labor.”
Mr Pitt said Mr Manning and Mr Entsch should think very carefully proposals for second corridors – consistently put forward by the LNP and parroted by Bob Katter, that would come at the expense of the existing highway and would essentially ‘de-main the main road.’
“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.
“I’ve never ruled out a second corridor option, but not until the agreed Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy has been delivered.”
“Where I do agree with Mr Enstch and Mr Manning is that extending the four laning to at least Gordonvale is a good idea. That’s been my position since I was elected in 2009.”
Mr Pitt said the issues facing the Bruce Highway have not changed simply because there’s been a change of government.
“Yet the new Bruce Highway ‘Crisis Management Group’ formed by the Newman Government would lead you to believe that to be the case,” Mr Pitt said.
“The question that needs to be asked is why doesn’t this ‘Crisis Group’ just use the 20 year Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy announced by Labor late last year?
“The plan was prepared using the technical expertise of the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) for the previous government and is a ready-made blueprint to lobby the federal government for funding.
“Instead, they’ve tossed this to one side and are now they’ll be asking the same hard working public servants who’ve prepared the earlier strategy to do their work all over again for appearances sake.”
Mr Pitt said the $1 billion over 10 years pledged by the LNP during the election for the Bruce Highway was actually less than the amount Labor was already spending.
“The LNP’s Bruce Highway Crisis Plan is indeed a plan in crisis”.