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Thursday, 6 June 2013
Page: 5679

Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (10:19): Thank you, Deputy Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity to speak about this very important portfolio and what it is doing for the Central Queensland region. I was just thinking that we are not even 20 minutes into this consideration in detail and I have already lost track of the number of projects that the minister has talked about and the amount of funding that is in discussion here this morning.

I think back to consideration in detail in the nine years I spent in opposition when I would come in and be part of listening to the minister's counterpart in the Howard years, and I cannot really imagine what he would have talked about. But I know what I would have been talking about: I would have been talking about what was not happening on the Bruce Highway and what was needed in terms of this very important piece of infrastructure for the state of Queensland and indeed the entire nation.

We have heard many times from this government, and we speak about it with great pride and conviction, that since coming to power the Labor government has spent four times as much—the minister will correct me if I get this wrong—on the Bruce Highway in half the time compared to the entire spend in the time of the Howard government. That is a great figure to quote but what does it really mean when we talk about that level of investment in this very important highway? I can tell the House, and constituents of Capricornia could tell the House, that it means basically constant nonstop roadworks setting about greatly improving the Bruce Highway both north and south of Rockhampton. Go south of Gladstone and you get to the Calliope crossroads, an enormous project underway there. In the northern part of my electorate there is the southern access to Mackay, which is an extremely busy and important section of road which really doubles as the Bruce Highway but also a very vital connection between the community of Sarina and the industrial area of Hay Point, the massive coal terminal, and Paget to the south of Mackay. We have duplicated that southern access to Mackay. It was done within a couple of years of us taking government. Work improving that section of the highway continues with further overtaking lanes between Sarina and Mackay.

Very important is the project the minister has already referred to, and you just have to laugh when the shadow minister talks about, 'They have announced this and what does it mean.' The minister has invited the shadow minister to please come to Rockhampton, although if the shadow minister comes to Rockhampton it could get very embarrassing, because so far we have had the shadow Treasurer and the opposition leader twice come to Rockhampton and fail to make a commitment, refuse to make a commitment for this extremely important project for the people of Central Queensland. This project is fixing up the Yeppen floodplains, finding a solution to this section of the Bruce Highway which we know from very painful experience in 2011 and before that in 1991 can be cut in times of flood, which cuts off Rockhampton and the entire northern half of the state for weeks at a time, causing huge disruption to our local economy, huge disruption to very important businesses right around Central Queensland and beyond. So there is work going on right now on the duplication and lifting of the Yeppen Bridge, and that is going to include very important improvements to the congestion for people having to travel in and out from Gracemere every day, something that is very important to our local area.

What comes next is what is required to really boost the flood immunity of that stretch of road. I would like the minister to talk a little more about what is in the budget for the Yeppoon South project. Even more than that, because there is so much to talk about in terms of Bruce Highway improvements, I would like the minister to talk about the Bruce Highway funding package in the budget.