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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31748

Mr RIPOLL (10:08 AM) —With all the debate about AusLink, the specific Ipswich Motorway proposal and the possibility of an alternate route as the solution, it is essential to ensure that the facts are clear. The biggest claim among the few people who think that the Ipswich Motorway should not be upgraded is that the six lanes are not enough for future needs, and that by the time the motorway was completed it would be at capacity.

For simplicity, the upgrade is often referred to as the six-lane Ipswich Motorway upgrade, but a more accurate description would be the Ipswich to Brisbane transport corridor solution plan. Those who had the opportunity to examine the Ipswich Motorway project report in detail would understand that the upgrade is not a simple addition of two lanes. It is a comprehensive and integrated plan. Any suggestion otherwise is incorrect and plainly dishonest. In some parts of the corridor there would be six lanes and in other parts eight. But, more importantly, the upgrade is not just about adding two extra lanes; it is about a complete transport corridor package. It involves the major redesign of intersections, interconnecting roads and links between suburbs, extra service roads, removing bottlenecks, upgrading rail infrastructure, upgrading public transport options and balancing the number of lanes with required traffic flows.

The Ipswich Motorway proposal is a thorough and comprehensive plan that will deliver a safe and reliable road network with a life span of 30 years. The Ipswich Motorway project report cost $6 million and examined all requirements by the federal and state governments, with representatives from both fully involved in the full process and planning. The issue of how long it will take to complete can be an emotive matter and used for political purposes. But actually getting the job started is the crucial first step.

The upgrade will take many years to complete, but it can be done while traffic continues to flow and must be done to transform the Ipswich Motorway from its substandard and dangerous condition. Every modern road project today is carried out while traffic continues to flow. It can be done effectively with overall traffic flows being quicker and safer due to lower speeds. There is plenty of evidence from past projects, including the M1 to the Gold Coast that traffic can flow efficiently. The preposterous concept that bulldozers turn up on a Monday to rip up the road and everyone has to wait years before they can use the road again is nothing more than a smear and fear campaign from a few who are determined to derail the project. While I have never objected to more roads being funded or built, I do object to an either/or ultimatum. The priority must remain dealing with the core problem and fixing it.

If the federal government desperately wants to fund more roads to the north, south or otherwise, they will get no argument from me. The recent use of daily vehicle movements on the Ipswich Motorway—as well as average daily, average weekly and peak daily figures—by the member for Blair to discredit the merit of the upgrade highlights the desperate attempts to confuse and delay any progress. Not surprisingly, we now see some urgency by government to do something, so out goes the fast-tracking mantra for an alternate route.

The Ipswich Motorway issue is not new. I have been campaigning for it for over six years. In 1994 the Labor government committed funding to begin the process of upgrading the Ipswich Motorway in 1996. This funding and commitment to upgrade the Ipswich Motorway a decade ago was scrapped by the incoming Howard Liberal government. Labor again committed funding to upgrade the motorway in 1998, with the most recent commitment to fully upgrade the corridor as a priority and matter of urgency. In the same period, the Liberal government has made no commitment to upgrade the Ipswich Motorway and has used every political opportunity to delay and dilute its direct responsibility. Disappointingly, the Howard-Thompson team have finally confirmed the dumping of the Ipswich Motorway as a federal responsibility.

Most disturbing and astonishing is Mr Thompson's insistence on compelling all traffic from the Cunningham and Warrego highways onto his northern route directly into the Logan toll road. This outrageous proposal surely must fail—as have Mr Thompson's past options A, B, C, D and E. We are now being offered option F, being the two bridge option in lieu of the original five bridge option. People are also being told that the northern route will cross the river only twice into the leafy blue-ribbon suburbs of Moggill and Priors Pocket but will not have an off-ramp. Surely no one believes that the federal government would build a road costing more than $500 million and not provide a simple off-ramp for those needing to travel to Moggill and Kenmore. If the northern alternative is given the green light by the federal government instead of the upgrade to the Ipswich Motorway, there will be very few winners and more precious years will have been wasted waiting for more reports based on one man's personal views.

Mr Thompson should consider the following facts in relation to his recent denigration of the good people at Queensland Main Roads and the Queensland government. First, the federal government had senior representatives from its own department—the Department of Transport and Regional Services—on the steering committee that oversaw the study into the six-lane upgrade of the Ipswich Motorway. The study's parameters were expanded on several occasions at the request of the federal government; and the state government met every single request of the federal government in relation to the report. The final cost of the entire study was $6 million, not $10.6 million as stated by Mr Thompson, and was totally paid for by the Commonwealth government, because they agreed with what was done.

The final report includes 25 subsets of studies including, but not limited to concept planning and layout, bicycle plans, public transport access studies, public utility requirements, traffic reports, air quality reports, environmental impact studies, a noise impact study, a social impact study, mining subsidence studies and so on. This report is as comprehensive as one could hope to find. It was completed in early 2002 but has never been actioned or done since, because the federal government has no will. Mr Thompson has been fully briefed, chapter and verse, on the report's findings, yet he continues to misrepresent all the findings in that report.

The recent attack by Mr Thompson on the credibility of the report on the six-lane upgrade of the Ipswich Motorway is his latest trick in a very long list of tricks by the federal government to justify its decision to dump the Ipswich Motorway from its scope of responsibility. The people of south-east Queensland want action, answers and leadership on this issue, not this litany of excuses and ill-informed nonsense coming from the member for Blair, Mr Thompson, and the Howard government.