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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2876


Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance) (10:23): The good folk in and around Carrathool, population 99, are a patient lot. They live in a shire which has a local government gross regional product per head of population which is the fourth highest in New South Wales and the 21st largest in Australia. That is according to the Mayor, Councillor Peter Laird, who is unashamedly parochial.

Yet, despite the value that Carrathool brings to the nation—they grow just about everything in Carrathool—the people there have had to contend with an inadequate, outdated bridge spanning the Murrumbidgee River for far too long. They have lobbied for 30 years to have something done about it, to no avail. But, finally, the Carrathool Bridge is being circumvented. You could say, 'Truss has replaced the truss.' That is because the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the member for Wide Bay, the Leader of the Nationals, Warren Truss, has found a bucket of money to construct a new bridge.

That funding—$7½ million in fact—will be matched dollar for dollar by his highly-effective counterpart in the Baird-Grant New South Wales Liberals-Nationals government, the hard-working roads minister, Duncan Gay. And the $15 million will build a bridge near the structure that has served the community well since 1924 but that is well past its use-by date. Notwithstanding the support it has provided over many years and its enduring legacy, the old wooden structure, an Allan-type truss road bridge, has had its day. Named after Percy Allan (1861-1930)—the designer of truss and other bridges and a senior engineer in the New South Wales Public Works Department—the Carrathool Bridge is supported on cylindrical iron piers; it is a bascule-type lift-span bridge, which was designed to allow river craft to pass, not that this feature has been used for many years.

Only three bascule lift-span bridges remain in New South Wales, and the Carrathool bridge is the only timber truss road bridge. Because of its uniqueness, its age and, some might even say, its beauty, the Carrathool Bridge is considered to be of high heritage value and has therefore been placed on the register of the National Trust of Australia and the New South Wales State Heritage Register. But this presented problems: the state government was required to dig deep, and to keep doing so, just to maintain it as a working bridge, and council, despite its protestations, was never going to be able to afford to build a new one. As Councillor Peter Laird said in March last year: 'It's just absolutely ridiculous the amount of money that's been put into this bridge and still it's not serving the community, it's grossly inadequate.'

His council colleague, the indefatigable Margaret Merrylees, persevered. She lobbied local members relentlessly. Duncan Gay thought she would never be able to pull it off, but he said he would match the federal government if she could get me to convince the Deputy Prime Minister to stump up the money. And you can trust Truss, because he has delivered. They are going to get a new bridge at Carrathool that will improve capacity and productivity. Thank you, Warren Truss.