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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30938

Mr CAMERON THOMPSON (4:56 PM) —Once again I rise to speak on the thorny question of the Ipswich Motorway and what is to be done about it. Last week I raised the incompetent management of the project by the Queensland government. No-one in Ipswich, no road user and no local business—no-one at all—thinks it is a good idea to take a road with 100,000 vehicles a day and dig it up for eight years to produce what would be a six-lane road with a completed capacity of no more than 120,000 vehicles a day. No-one thinks it is a good idea to demolish 20 good bridges and build 53 new ones while 100,000 vehicles a day pass through that incredible construction site. Even the architects of the project, Kellogg Brown and Root, found that, given the massive scope of works and the daily traffic disruption, it would be impossible to do the job in five years. They said that the minimum would be 7½ years. So what credibility is there for the Queensland transport minister and his Labor followers now that we all know that even these optimistic figures were rorted by 20 per cent? The great scandal of this project is that $10.6 million of taxpayers' money was wasted in putting together a plan based on shonky figures. Frankly, it should be a job for the CMC.

So today I want to question any further involvement by the state government in the vital task of expediting the important project developed by the Commonwealth to halve traffic on the Ipswich Motorway, extend the Logan Motorway to Dinmore and direct all traffic from the Cunningham and Warrego highways onto the new route. I want to question any further role for a government that wasted $10.6 million on a project it knew to be impossible. It knew because in 2003 its engineers were writing that, during the construction period for the Ipswich Motorway—2004 to 2011—traffic would increase from 80,000 to just 118,000 vehicles a day. But, at the same time that the state government was writing that falsehood, it had full control of the highway traffic counters—and what was the true Ipswich Motorway traffic? In 2003, there were 99,073 vehicles a day; in 2002, 95,140; in 2001, 92,450; and in 2000, 92,800. Those were the average weekday traffic volume totals for those periods.

We still do not know what the 2004 average weekday traffic volume is, because Mr Lucas has not released it. In 2001 there were 92,450 vehicles a day but the report said that there were 80,000 vehicles a day. In 2002 there were 95,140 vehicles a day but the report said that growth across the construction and operational period was just three per cent. In 2003 there were 99,073 vehicles a day but the report said that construction would start in 2004 with just 80,000 vehicles a day at the busiest location, which is just west of the Logan interchange. I do not think it is acceptable for the state government to claim it did not know. It most certainly did know. Those figures were coming in each day from the traffic counters while this misleading report was still in its embryonic development. Remember that work did not even start on this study until 2002 and it was not complete until 2003.

The real scandal is that the state government spent this $10.6 million and rorted the outcome while it specifically rejected the only workable option. The state government refused to allow the engineers to consider the need for an alternative route, even when the six-lane plan was clearly unworkable. What I allege is not incompetence; it is corruption. The Queensland state government approved the use of rorted figures. When the project still failed the necessary guidelines, the state government did not order a switch to an alternative route. When the project overran its allocated timetable by 50 per cent, the state government still did not order a switch to an alternative. And the state government had the gall at that stage to ask the Commonwealth not only to fund the $10.6 million study but also to proceed with the basket case of a project it had produced in the process. In my book, that should be the end of the state government's involvement with this crucial project.

Every day, 100,000 vehicles rely on this road for trade, commuting to work, carrying freight, getting kids to school and dozens of other reasons. The Commonwealth has made the right move, and I want to outline the benefits that will flow to the Ipswich community and other road users as a result. The Commonwealth has committed to start immediately on preconstruction for a new Ipswich-Logan interchange. Under the old six-lane scheme, this project would not have reached construction until 2007. We are bringing it forward. We are going to extend the Logan Motorway from the interchange over the Brisbane River to Priors Pocket and the Redbank Peninsula to join direct to the Cunningham and Warrego highways at Dinmore. The Ipswich City council plans to develop 10,000 jobs on the Redbank Peninsula. These jobs cannot proceed without the Commonwealth's AusLink project because, without it, there would not be adequate access to the industrial zoned land on that peninsula.

From a purely selfish Ipswich point of view, this new road will make a big impact on the entry to our city. Instead of an ugly asphalt eyesore, or the even uglier replacement proposed by the state government, we will have a new riverside drive coming into Redbank over the river. If the council is able to exercise some vision with setting out the new industrial area on the Redbank Peninsula—and the new area adjacent to Gateway Bridge at Murarrie comes to mind—we should have a new gateway to Ipswich which all of Australia will envy.

At the same time, businesses in Goodna such as AMH, Capral and other local industries, will benefit from the early completion date. They will also benefit from the fact that existing motorway traffic will not be disrupted to anything like the extent of the eight-year process previously planned by the state government. They will also benefit from the fact that Goodna will not disappear under acres of asphalt, huge embankments and new noise barriers. There will be new jobs in trade with new opportunities at Redbank. Commuters will have less disruption during construction and half the traffic on the Ipswich Motorway on completion in just four years. On top of that, all Warrego Highway and Cunningham Highway traffic will be directed onto the new road at Dinmore. That means Ipswich Motorway commuters will not find themselves mudguard to mudguard with B-doubles and other trucks every single day.

Our plan will also address the long-term problems of trucks using the Brisbane urban corridor through Granard Road and Mt Gravatt-Capalaba Road. The idea that that section through the Brisbane urban corridor is a national highway and should remain so is an idea that today is unique and peculiar to the Labor Party. Big trucks hauling past 17 sets of traffic lights and up and down five hills is just crazy. The coalition government here in Canberra has the vision to shift that traffic to the Logan Motorway. At present, the biggest single obstacle to that is once again the Queensland state government, which insists on charging a toll as a massive deterrent to truck traffic which otherwise would naturally choose the Logan Motorway. I hope the state government can be persuaded to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, by helping to find ways to encourage truck traffic onto the Logan, in line with this visionary Commonwealth plan.

Finally, I want to address those people living north of the Brisbane River who have on occasion opposed earlier proposals for a four-bridge crossing of the Brisbane River in order to complete an alternative route. Concerns from the people in that area and from political representatives who were concerned by the four-bridge scheme certainly have been heard by the Commonwealth government. The member for Ryan has now proposed the conversion of the Priors Pocket area to a community parkland area. This is a great opportunity for a win-win for commuters, residents and all other stakeholder groups. That particular proposal is the tip of the iceberg. As I said, the beautification of the Redbank Peninsula and the other opportunities that arise as a result of what the Commonwealth has put forward mean that we have an incredible new opportunity for our area to advance and to present that advancement in a way that is not only functional but also very pleasing to the eye.

I want to close by congratulating the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Senator Ian Campbell, for his commitment to see this through. I also want to congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister for the part that he has played in helping to bring this to fruition. The minister for roads, Ian Campbell, has a big job ahead of him to ensure that all the benefits of this scheme are realised. I wish him all the best in this important venture. This has been a project in which there has been a lot of involvement with the community. I have certainly been involved in it every step of the way.

The chicanery that we have seen from the state government in putting forward a completely unworkable scheme, when they knew that it did not measure up to the national highway guidelines—dropping it on the table and asking the Commonwealth to take it on board and to run with it anyway—was just a travesty of planning. When Queensland is growing at the phenomenal rate that it is growing today, the state government cannot afford to play those games any more. We need to have effective planning. This is an example of it. I congratulate everyone who has had the vision to see this through, and I look forward to working with them to make it a reality.