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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4399

Mr CHRISTENSEN ( Dawson ) ( 09:36 ): Everybody is talking about what is in the budget. I would like to talk about what was not there—the Bruce Highway, 1,700 kilometres of bitumen running from Brisbane in the south-east of Queensland to Cairns in the far north. It provides the arterial link along the Queensland coastline for major regional centres like Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rocky and Gladstone. According to the North Queensland Roads Alliance, the Bruce Highway contribution to the North Queensland economy in 2010-11 was $11.5 billion and there was $5.3 billion in gross added value. An estimated 60,000 jobs in North Queensland, or about 17 per cent of the total employment in that area, are related to trade on the Bruce Highway.

There are four important ports along the stretch of the Bruce Highway between Rockhampton and Townsville. Townsville's port has a throughput of 10 million tonnes a year including sugar, copper, lead and zinc exports, and nickel and oil imports. Hay Point and Abbot Point, which are close or in my electorate, export 77.5 million tonnes and 12.1 million tonnes of coal annually. Mackay is an important port for exporting sugar.

But here is the big kicker. With all of that economic activity, the Bruce Highway is an absolute disgrace, and this is for two reasons. Firstly, in some sections it is just outright dangerous and, secondly, it is regularly cut because of flooding. Yet the importance of this infrastructure was completely overlooked in last night's budget.

The Australian Road Assessment Program rated the stretch of the Bruce Highway between Mackay and Sarina as the third most dangerous stretch of road in Australia. The section is only 25 kilometres long but recorded 108 motorists injured and six killed on it between 2005 and 2009.

As we know, the LNP was swept into power earlier this year and the key promise from the new Premier, Campbell Newman, was to allocate an additional $1 billion to the Bruce Highway. The pressure is now on the federal government to match the funding on a similar scale, as it has in other areas where they have done 80-20 funding splits. Four billion dollars should be allocated immediately to the Bruce Highway. But it simply was not in the budget.

To counter this, I have launched a campaign called FixTheBruce designed to allow grassroots users of the Bruce Highway to have input. We need to know exactly what the problems are so the solutions can be costed and prioritised. We need a willing federal government in Canberra to contribute its share of funding to the Bruce Highway so that it can be brought up to a standard that will allow Queensland to continue making a contribution to the national economy. Hopefully, we will have that willing government soon. For now, though, I encourage Bruce Highway users to log onto the website or, for those in my electorate, fill in the brochure in the mail that will help me identify the problem areas that they think need to be fixed and what they think is most urgent, to assist the Premier in prioritising future works and force the Gillard Labor government to invest in the Bruce Highway.