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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20541

Mr RIPOLL (4:49 PM) —The issue of the Ipswich motorway has been debated for many years. I myself have been campaigning for an upgrade of this vital federally funded road for at least five years and probably since the Ipswich motorway began to become congested and a real traffic problem. Five years ago, the Ipswich motorway was in dire need of repair, and it was well on the way to needing a serious upgrade. In 1998, the Labor Party promised funding to do some urgent repairs if we came into government. Of course, that was not to be, and the road was ignored. The road has been ignored since that time. The federal government has chosen to put this issue aside as being too difficult. It is in the too-hard basket. The Ipswich motorway is the only major road link between Ipswich and Brisbane, but it also links Toowoomba and Warwick, and it funnels traffic from the Cunningham and Warrego highways as well. It is really a vital road link for all of south-east Queensland and is very important to the local econ-omies. No-one disputes the importance of this critical road to Queensland, to our local economy, to our social structures or to our demographic growth in the area.

A couple of years ago, the federal government—and I have to thank the federal government—gave $2 million to the state government to do a project, a study, a report on a master plan to upgrade the Ipswich motorway. I and many other people were extremely excited, because we believed that this was stage 1 of fixing the Ipswich motorway. Alas, it was not to be. What we ended up with was a fantastic project: a motorway consultation unlike any other we had seen before. It was fantastic in that it took 12 months—12 months not because it was slow but because it consulted the whole community; 12 months because it looked at all the options; and 12 months because the $2 million was extremely well spent to ensure that the master plan that the state government department would put forward was a solution for the region, a solution for the Ipswich motorway and something that would carry the local region well into the future.

The problem that came out of that, and which was not supported by the federal government, was that the possible cost of doing that would be, let us say, between $500 million and $600 million. I do not debate that this is a lot of money, because it is a lot of money. But the reality is that that is what it costs to fix the road and fix it properly. Currently the road carries 85,000-plus vehicles every single day, and it is fast approaching the 100,000 mark. There are not too many alternatives as to what to do about the road. It is not just about the dense traffic flow but about the unsafe nature of the road. It is about the fact that the right lane merges into the fast lane. It is about the curvature of the road. It is about a whole range of issues that need to be addressed. There is some money from the federal government to look at urgent emergency repairs, and the state government will be using that money as soon as it is given to them. So far in the budget only $10 million of the $66 million has actually been made available to the state government, but once that is done the road will at least get some urgent repairs that it much needs.

The issue I want to raise today is not just about the road but about the campaign being put together by this government, and particularly the member for Blair, Cameron Thompson, whose most recent Thompson Tribune is a special one on the Ipswich Motorway. He says on the front page: `Ipswich motorway: let's all work for a better solution'. What he really means is: `Let's all work to find a delay tactic and a strategy that will mean this government never has to pay for the road.'

What the government have done now is to say that there should be an alternative road. It is fine to say that there should be an alternative road, but who is going to pay for it? Not the federal government. They are going to try and push the responsibility away from their federally funded road to the state. They will look at any alternative—any other solution; anything at all—as long as it does not have the words `federally funded' in it. So it is not a solution. It is not all of us working together for a better solution; it is all of them working together to make sure that the issue is confused enough that people start looking away from the road and at other alternatives.

I want to mention a couple of points that the member for Blair raises in his document. He says that he has been campaigning for years. He has, but he says in here that it is to the state government. The state government is not responsible for the Ipswich motorway. He says that the state government has run out of options to fix the problem. It has not run out of options; it has one on the table and is waiting for funding from the federal government. The federal government should get up and do something about it. He lists a whole heap of issues that are all delaying tactics. (Time expired)