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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1656


Mr BEDDALL(10.23) —I wish to speak in this debate on an issue of great concern-the misuse of Federal funds. In my frequent travels around my electorate of Rankin, I have occasion to use the Ipswich bypass which joins the Cunningham Highway to Warwick. This major roadwork was completed in December 1984 at a cost to the Federal Government of $25m. Less than two and a half years later, major sections of the road have deteriorated badly. The project, whilst funded by the Federal Government, was designed and planned by the Queensland Main Roads Department. It was constructed under tender by Thiess. There are serious questions to be answered by the Queensland Minister responsible for main roads, Mr Hinze. Either the design and planning was faulty or the construction was not up to standard. In any case, responsibility lies clearly with the Queensland Minister, Mr Hinze. In a road project of this magnitude, it is reasonable to expect that there should be no major maintenance for 10 years. However, the road now resembles a patchwork quilt due to the large amount of repairs already undertaken.

The greatest irony of all is that at the official opening of the bypass the Queensland Premier berated the Federal Government for not providing sufficient road funds. Because Bjelke-Petersen is economically illiterate, he still does not understand after 40 years in politics that it is not how much one spends that is important but how one spends the funds available. I am heartily sick of the way the Queensland National Party continually asks for more Commonwealth funds to cover up its managerial incompetence. The National Party evidently thinks that fiscal responsibility is some sort of Milan Brych wonder drug. The blunders on the Ipswich bypass construction are the symptoms of a Government that has become so arrogant and uncaring that it will spend taxpayers' dollars with no thought of accountability.

Queensland motorists, who pay the highest car registration charges in Australia, demand full disclosures on the Ipswich bypass scandal. The Queensland Minister, Mr Hinze, must now have a full and public inquiry into the way that $25m of Commonwealth funds has been apparently squandered. Mr Hinze should immediately release all tender documents, specifications and Main Roads Department engineers reports so that the motoring public of Queensland can see where the blame lies for this ineptitude.

I believe that the Queensland Government does not build roads with any thought to economies of scale. I would be interested to see a comparison of the costs of building roads in Queensland rural areas with costs in other States with similar geography. The Queensland Government has an old fashioned, expensive way of putting out a tender. It breaks it up into little details so that all of its mates receive a go at the tender. This is far more expensive than the letting of a major tender.

It would be interesting to compare the standard of road construction between the Ipswich bypass and the Oxenford overpass. For honourable members who are unaware of the Oxenford overpass, this is a piece of road construction that conveniently gives Gold Coast-Brisbane motorists direct access to Mr Hinze's drive-in bottle shop at the Oxenford Hotel. This overpass was approved for construction in December 1983 and was estimated to cost the taxpayer $2.36m. All of this was Federal money provided under the bicentennial road program. No one seriously questions the placing of an overpass over the busy Pacific Highway, particularly at Oxenford. However, honourable members may well ask why the same project has a network of roads which virtually direct people into the bottle department of the Hinze Oxenford Hotel. One of the major attractions of this hotel is the Russ Hinze Beer Hall. I can also assure honourable members that this overpass is in far better condition than the Ipswich bypass.

The Queensland Government has an appalling record of delivering services to its citizens. This is nowhere more apparent than in road funding. When the Hawke Government was elected in 1983, funding for Queensland roads was shared dollar for dollar with the State and Federal governments. Now, for every dollar the Queensland Government provides for road, the Federal Government provides $1.80. Sixty per cent of all capital works of the Queensland Main Roads Department is paid for by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is spending $5m a week to try to give Queenslanders a decent road system. Quite frankly, it is about time that the Queensland National Party Government either accepted its responsibilities or resigned.