Bruce Hwy closures ‘ crippling’
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.’’