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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20048

Mr CAMERON THOMPSON (5:05 PM) —I rise today to discuss the shameful lack of transport infrastructure planning in south-east Queensland and particularly—and this is an issue that is very close to the heart of people in my electorate—the Ipswich Motorway. There have been some atrocious decisions made lately by the Beattie government, such as their failure to push through with their promised railway to Redcliffe and the upgrade of the Houghton Highway. But I think there is nothing worse than the way in which they have completely messed up the issue of planning for the Ipswich Motorway. This road has been declared by the RACQ as the most dangerous in Queensland.

To give some background, this road is just four lanes wide. It was carrying 78,000 vehicles a day in 2002 and is now carrying 85,000 vehicles a day. There are lots of ups and downs on that road and lots of off-camber corners. Where the intersection meets the Logan Motorway there are right-hand merges, which would be excellent if we were living in America and everyone drove on the other side of the road, but it is pretty hopeless here in Australia. The same thing happens if you come from the other end of the motorway and try to merge onto the motorway from Ipswich Road. This is not acceptable. On the other side of the river there is rampant growth—as is happening in Ipswich at the moment. On the other side of the road is an incredible goat track that people drive down in order to access Brisbane from Moggill—that is from the overcrowded Moggill Road. Many people are racking their brains trying to figure out what to do with not just Moggill Road but also Ipswich Motorway. Unfortunately none of them is in the state government.

The story about the need to upgrade the Ipswich Motorway hit the front pages when the Commonwealth came up with $64 million to do some much needed work on the road, particularly on the right-hand mergers that I spoke about earlier. But when that money hit the deck did the state government have any plan as to how to use it? No, they did not; they had no plan at all. It was quite an embarrassment to them, I think, that when that money arrived there was silence from the state government and a complete lack of progress. That has been followed by a proposal from the state government to investigate how to fix the problem. You would think they would have had that sort of thing sitting on the shelf, but they did not. They set out to find out how to solve the traffic problem on the Ipswich Motorway and, blow me down, they could not look any further than the proposal to simply upgrade the four-lane motorway to a six-lane motorway.

For years, for decades—some claim this goes back almost a century—people in my electorate have been telling state governments of various hues that a bridge is needed in this area to cross from the south side to the north side of the river. That is the old proposal, and that would relieve some of the pressure on the Ipswich Motorway. That is oversimplifying it but, to be frank, if there were simply a duplication of the Ipswich Motorway to provide an alternative route, rather than an upgrade to six lanes, then there would be tremendous relief not only for the people south of the river, who are experiencing incredible traffic mayhem on the Ipswich Motorway, but also for the people north of the river, who are experiencing the same problem. They are lining up to go down Moggill Road, and they are experiencing all the delays and difficulties that are happening on the motorway.

There is a complete lack of planning from the state government. The state government sent out a consultant to look at the issue of planning for the motorway. When that fellow arrived at my office, he told me that the only way to build a new motorway would be to put it up on sticks, with the service roads underneath it. Obviously that would be a heck of an eyesore to have running through the middle of your town. Not only would it be an eyesore but I also think it would be quite illogical, given the pinch of traffic that occurs at Goodna. The consultant also told me that it would be impossible to build a perfect road if we stuck with the existing alignment, that we would have to build it at night and that it would be a very expensive and very long process. Of course, the reason it would have to be built at night is to try to avoid the traffic. Instead of a sensible planning proposal and a consecutive unrolling of the necessary projects, we would be facing a never ending blockade of the road. With 85,000 vehicles a day trying to move through that area, the idea from the state government to basically move those 85,000 vehicles through a construction site is just mind boggling.

This is the level to which state government road planning has degenerated; their plan is to move 85,000 vehicles a day through a construction site. They are even planning that, by the time the road is completed and an inflated amount of money has been spent on all the people working on this in the middle of the night, the traffic number on that road will be 118,000 vehicles a day. Even once they have completed the six-lane upgrade, 118,000 vehicles a day would be at a standstill. It is a total disaster—and this is what they are trying to force onto the people in my electorate. It is totally illogical, it is ridiculously expensive and it is ridiculously damaging to the local economy and to the daily lives of all the people who have to rely on that road.

Fortunately, at my insistence and at the insistence of the Commonwealth, the state government in the end were flogged into going out and looking at the possibility of an alternative route. And what did they find? They found that one of the options—option D—would cost about half as much, would be able to be done in half the time and would provide an equal division in the numbers of vehicles a day forecast for 2011. It would mean 48,000 vehicles a day on the new northern route and 46,000 vehicles a day on the existing southern route—a forecast reduction of 32,000 a day. Isn't that a more logical and sensible outcome? It is, I can tell you, according to all the people in the electorate of Blair and the readership area of the Queensland Times—but not in the minds of the Queensland state government.

I have distributed a survey to people in the area. In two weeks I have received 166 responses. Of those, 158 supported the idea of an alternative route, three opposed it and five were neutral; they did not express an opinion either way. That is incredible. It is roughly 98 per cent in favour of an alternative route. The state government maintain that they have conducted consultation on their proposal. Do not ask me how the heck you can conduct consultation where 98 per cent of the people believe one thing and you find something completely different. This is pathetic; this is really hopeless. I cannot understand it, when this is so strongly felt by all the people—not only the people in the Ipswich area itself but also the people reliant on it further west, out round Laidley and Gatton, and north up to Esk. I had a discussion with the Mayor of Esk the other day. The councillors in Esk have already discussed this, and they feel very strongly that there needs to be an alternative route, just as the councillors at Gatton do. But what do we get from the councillors at Ipswich? The best you can say is that they are sitting on the fence. I say: 98 per cent of their constituents want an alternative road, and we expect them to deliver on their representation. They must be getting the same degree of lobbying on this as I am.

The latest is a report in the Sunday Mail on a pineapple farm in Moggill, in the vicinity of the alternative route for the motorway. There are pineapple farms, alpaca farms and plenty of open countryside in which it would be possible to build a very effective highway. There are not the kinds of constrictions that apply on the other side of the river, and, of course, as I have said before, it would be a huge attraction to the people who live over there to have the opportunity to use a southern road. But a pineapple farm is being sold and 407 new houses are being added. That will add something like 600 extra cars to the crawl down Moggill Road, and every single one of those could easily be diverted onto an alternative to the Ipswich Motorway.

That alternative would provide those people north of the river with an opportunity to immediately pick up rail transport—which they have never had—to reduce their travelling to the Gold Coast by half an hour and to provide them with a whole range of alternative routes on which to access the Brisbane city area. But none of that has been picked up by the state government. It is time that the transport minister, Steve Bredhauer, moved. It is time that he got this study finished so that we can have completed for our people in this area an effective road planning exercise. It is abysmal that we are getting nowhere with this. The people in the state government, particularly the member for Ipswich West—(Time expired)