Bruce Hwy clo­sures ‘ crip­pling’

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Ryan Mathe­son ryan. mathe­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

FLOOD­ING across North Queens­land has forced the clo­sure of the Bruce High­way 446 times in the past two years.

The State Op­po­si­tion has blamed a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to axe more than $ 326 mil­lion from Queens­land’s road bud­get.

LNP Shadow Trans­port and Main Roads Min­is­ter Fiona Simp­son said the time had come to des­ig­nate the busy stretch of road a na­tional pri­or­ity.

‘‘ The re­cent flood­ing has vividly demon­strated the short­com­ings of this ma­jor con­nec­tion, with many towns cut off for way too long and our freight net­work crip­pled,’’ she said.

‘‘ What these new fig­ures show to­day is that those high­way clo­sures weren’t an iso­lated ex­am­ple.

‘‘ It’s an all too com­mon oc­cur­rence, par­tic­u­larly be­tween Mackay and Cairns.

‘‘ It is time for the Gil­lard and Bligh La­bor gov­ern­ments to stand up to their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and give the Bruce High­way the pri­or­ity it de­serves as a na­tional high­way.’’

Ms Simp­son said the flood­ing fig­ures came on top of an RACQ re­port this week re­veal­ing the poor state of the Bruce High­way was the lead­ing rea­son for high crash rates.

‘‘ For too long the Bruce High­way has been ig­nored and un­der­funded, she said.

‘‘ The high­way is the eco­nomic life­line for so many com­mu­ni­ties up and down the Queens­land coast.

‘‘ It is a disgrace that more than $ 325 mil­lion was cut from the Bruce High­way as part of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s flood bud­get cuts, a de­ci­sion that’s par­tic­u­larly in­com­pre­hen­si­ble given around half these funds were ear­marked for im­proved flood im­mu­nity on this crit­i­cal link.’’

Main Roads Min­is­ter Craig Wal­lace yes­ter­day hit back at the ac­cu­sa­tions, re­mind­ing the op­po­si­tion of a lack­lus­tre road fund­ing regime in the past.

Mr Wal­lace said road fund­ing in Queens­land was the high­est per capita in the coun­try.

‘‘ More money is spent on roads in Queens­land than any other state in the coun­try,’’ he said.

‘‘ When the op­po­si­tion was in power in Can­berra they stran­gled fund­ing for the Bruce High­way and we are now hav­ing to pay the price.

‘‘ The Howard gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $ 840 mil­lion to the Bruce High­way in its last five years, while the cur­rent gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $ 2.3 bil­lion dol­lars in its first term.

‘‘ The LNP sat there for 10 years and did noth­ing.

‘‘ So it’s highly hyp­o­crit­i­cal to be jump­ing up and down now.’’

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