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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14071


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (12:01): We are coming towards Christmas, and Christmas in North Queensland means the wet season. The wet season also means that the Bruce Highway will be cut a number of times this year. This affects our cost of living as well. Every time there is a tropical low off the Coral Sea there is a 25 per cent levy or tariff placed on all transport in North Queensland because they know that sooner or later they will be held up on the side of the road. It is something that we have to work through. I am pleased that the report that the technical people have given the Queensland government in relation to where the priorities lie for repair of the Bruce Highway has centred on the bridges in North Queensland. The worst stretch of road on which I travelled a couple of years ago was between Miriam Vale and Rockhampton. Clearly we have the worst bridges in Australia in North Queensland. The Haughton River bridge is very dangerous. It came very close to being closed last year and we must make sure it is being repaired as soon as humanly possible.

One thing I am very pleased about is that Blakey's Crossing will be fixed next dry season. We have to get through this wet season but thankfully the state member for Townsville, John Hathaway, was able to follow my lead and get the LNP state government to finally fix Blakey's Crossing. Blakey's Crossing is the major industrial link between the industrial suburbs of Garbutt and Bohle. When they go under, traffic backs up from Townsville's growth area of the northern beaches all the way through and what should be a 20-minute trip to town can become 2½ hours. It was a federal road and was gifted back to the local council as a matter of course when the Mather Street and Woolcock Street extension was brought in. This was the Bruce Highway and it has been the Bruce Highway for an awfully long time, and it should have been fixed and should never have been accepted back by the local council.

We were very lucky lately that I had Gary Humphries, the coalition's emergency services spokesman, visit Townsville to be briefed on a project we are trying to bring into reality on the northern beaches. We will be getting a community centre there as part of the Stocklands northern beaches or north shore development. What I would like to see done and what I am trying to get the community behind is to have it upgraded to a cyclone evacuation centre. After Cyclone Larry in 2006 the then Labor Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, said every centre in northern Queensland should have a cyclone evacuation centre. He built absolutely zero and now the ones that are being built are being built with charity given to us from the United Arab Emirates. To have the federal government pay for that little bit extra so that we can make sure there is a full commercial kitchen and that the building is absolutely safe for those residents of the Northern Beaches for a flight of fancy. We are looking at people in high flood-rate risk zones, tidal surge zones and in caravan parks up there.

I was pleased that at the meeting were Andrew Wallace from Stockland North Shore and Councillor Sue Blom from that ward of the Townsville City Council. The Northern Beaches really have no greater advocate than Councillor Sue Blom; she loves it out there and has lived there for 28 or 30 years. AFL Townsville was represented by John Dirkin, and the AFL nationally has taken a great interest in the Northern Beaches. I am pleased to say that we are getting a NAB Cup game at the beginning of next year between the Gold Coast and the mighty North Melbourne Kangaroos—they are coming to Townsville! Join in the chorus, sing it one and all, North Melbourne is coming to Townsville! Christine Buckland joined the meeting from the North Townsville Community Hub. They are a great community hub and the community centre at Deeragun is a great space, but it is more for meetings and collectives to get together in, not an evacuation centre for times of distress. They will play a huge part in getting ready for a cyclone. Peter Raffles from Townsville Cricket has been a fantastic advocate for this, and Lachlan Bell from the Townsville and District Rugby Union has also made sure that we are looking at this for an holistic and global response.

To Townsville's own Mitchell Johnson, who re-joins the Australian Cricket Team: Wanderers Cricket Club in Townsville is very proud of you and the way you have come back from terrible injury. As a personal plea to those other football clubs chasing Johnathan Thurston: please, he has a home! We took him on as a 21-year-old from Canterbury, he has made North Queensland his home and he is marrying a North Queensland girl—stay, JT, stay! (Time expired)