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Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Page: 5122

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayLeader of The Nationals) (16:11): I have spoken often about the urgent need to upgrade the Bruce Highway through my electorate. I have grieved with the many families who have lost a loved one on this section of the road, I have lamented the inefficiencies and the delays that are caused by this road and I have certainly experienced for myself on a regular basis the dangers and difficulties of this section of the road. Motorists travelling on the dangerous Cooroy to Curra section have been cheated in the Gillard Labor government's budget, with not a single extra cent allocated towards this road over the next four years. Minister Albanese has frequently acknowledged publicly that this is the most dangerous section of the Bruce Highway. The RACQ said on budget night:

One in six deaths on national highways—

the whole national highways system—

occur on the Bruce Highway ...

They have identified this particular section, Cooroy to Curra sections A, C and D, as their highest priority for road upgrading. At the 2007 federal election, the coalition committed $700 million to begin the construction of the four-laning of this 60 kilometre section of road and we made a commitment to finish it by 2020. The Labor Party offered $200 million, but now it looks like not even that money is going to be spent. In the Nation Building Program, Labor offered $488 million, with a $125 million state government commitment to build section B of this upgrade, the road around the Traveston Crossing Dam. The Queensland government had promised to pay for it and build it themselves; that is why it was shovel-ready and chosen under the Nation Building Program. But, only a few weeks after the construction started, the Traveston Crossing Dam was axed. This project has continued and will be completed shortly, but in this budget the government has acknowledge that it is going to spend only $388 million on this road.

In the 2011 budget, Labor announced that it was taking $325 million off the Cooroy to Curra upgrade project and the Ipswich Motorway. The minister has refused to identify how much has been coming off each of these sections. He has refused to answer questions on notice. He has refused to allow his department to answer the questions before Senate estimates. We now know that at least $100 million has actually been taken off this road, so in fact people are doing worse than even the paltry amounts that were offered.

Too many lives have been lost and too many families have been touched by the horrid tragedies of the accidents on this notorious stretch of road. It is to the government's shame that it is not prepared to provide funding to see its upgrade.