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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1457


Mr SLIPPER (Fisher) (14:20): My question is addressed to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Given the success of my lobbying, and that of others, resulting in the upgrade of the Bruce Highway to six lanes from Brisbane to Caboolture, and in view of the commendable investment by the government to further improvements north of Fisher, including the Cooroy-Curra section, which will save lives, when can the Sunshine Coast expect the Bruce Highway from Caboolture to the Sunshine Coast to be upgraded to six lanes, removing appalling congestion and providing road access to and from Brisbane of a similar type to that between Brisbane and the Gold Coast and Ipswich? (Time expired)

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:20): I thank the member for Fisher for his question. I can get some questions from those opposite, just not from the shadow minister. Indeed, we have significantly increased funding for the Bruce Highway: some $3.3 billion in funding for the Bruce Highway. This compares with $1.3 billion over 12 long years from those opposite—investing more than twice as much in half the time. Our record is: we are currently putting some 3,500 people to work rebuilding more than 90 kilometres of the highway right now, and during the break I opened section B of the Cooroy to Curra upgrade—promised, funded, constructed and opened under this government. I also announced joint funding with the Queensland government of $790 million for the section A upgrade. These are the sections of the highway that are in the electorate of the member for Wide Bay, the shadow minister. He was the minister for transport who described this section as the worst section of road in Australia but could not deliver a cent in spite of the fact that he was the local member and the minister; he could not even turn up to the road opening, so embarrassed was he.

And just today I have announced funding in the electorate of the member for Fisher of $80.7 million for a new interchange at Roys Road and Bells Creek Road near Beerwah, with work to start in the middle of this year. Ten people have lost their lives on this two-kilometre stretch of the Bruce Highway since 2002—I have had representations from the member for Fisher, as well as other community members, about this—and this is why it is important for this funding to proceed.

What I can guarantee also is the work we are doing further north of the member's electorate, on the Bruce Highway from Cabbage Tree Creek to Carmen Road. What I can guarantee is that we will have real projects with real funding and real time frames. And there is some support from those opposite. Indeed, the member for Herbert had this to say:

I'll give Labor a pat on the back and say they have spent more in their four or five years on the Bruce Highway than we did before.

That is what they say in their electorates, because they know that it is the case. They are embarrassed by the performance of the member for Wide Bay, that is why there has been no opportunity to ask a question on infrastructure since 2010 given by the Leader of the National Party.

Mr SLIPPER (Fisher) (14:23): Madam Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. While I thank the minister for the welcome news contained in his answer, given the fact that the population of the Sunshine Coast will double over the next 15 years or so, will the government look, as soon as possible, at fully upgrading the Bruce Highway to six lanes from Caboolture to the Sunshine Coast?

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:24): We certainly have, on top of today's announcement, allocated additional funding for the section of the highway that the member refers to. We are also in discussions with the Queensland government about nation building 2, the next part of the program, which begins in 2014-15. We are absolutely committed to upgrades on the Bruce Highway, which is why we have, as I said, invested more than twice as much in half the time than our predecessors. And in identifying the areas that are most dangerous, I am aware that a number of those are in the area referred to by the member because of the population growth that has occurred.

Indeed, the Cooroy to Curra section, which construction will begin on later this year, is a section in which about one in five of the vehicles that use that particular stretch of highway are heavy vehicles. That makes it particularly dangerous, and it makes it particularly appropriate that you have a divided carriageway. I look forward to the discussions with the Queensland government about the priorities for the Bruce Highway, but this government will maintain our commitment to upgrading the Bruce as part of our upgrading of our nation's roadworks. (Time expired)