‘JUST BLOODY FIX IT’

While Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Iris has so far left the Whit­sun­days un­scathed, the lo­cal MP is again plead­ing for a per­ma­nent so­lu­tion for a vi­tal link

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Car­ruthers peter.car­ruthers@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

The lat­est on Cy­clone Iris and rain fore­cast for to­day:

AS MORE than 100mm from Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Iris once again saw both lanes of Shute Har­bour Rd at Hamil­ton Plains un­der­wa­ter, a lo­cal MP is say­ing “enough is enough” and call­ing for a per­ma­nent flood-proof­ing fix.

The no­to­ri­ous sec­tion of road has been a home away from home for Mem­ber for Whit­sun­day Ja­son Costi­gan, who has been solidly cam­paign­ing for a flood fix and de­mand­ing to see the “busi­ness case” promised by the La­bor can­di­date for Whit­sun­day Brownyn Taha.

In an­swer to a ques­tion on no­tice, asked by Mr Costi­gan of the Min­is­ter for Trans­port and Main Roads tabled by the State Gov­ern­ment on Fe­bru­ary 15, Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley said a busi­ness case “has been de­vel­oped” and a “pre­ferred pro­ject op­tion for an up­grade” for the road had been iden­ti­fied.

“But where is it?” Mr Costi­gan asked yes­ter­day as cars trav­elled through the flood­wa­ter.

“Quite clearly Hamil­ton Plains is not a pri­or­ity for the Palaszczuk La­bor Gov­ern­ment.

“You can see that from the weasel words that have come from the min­is­ter in his re­sponse.”

Mr Bai­ley said de­tails for the busi­ness case had not been re­leased as they were com­mer­cial in con­fi­dence.

“The de­tails of busi­ness cases are used dur­ing any com­mer­cial ten­der, so aren’t gen­er­ally re­leased be­fore that process,” he said.

“As I’ve said, a pre­ferred op­tion has been iden­ti­fied, and that will be con­sid­ered against com­pet­ing pri­or­i­ties statewide.”

In the lead-up to the State Gov­ern­ment elec­tion last year the LNP promised $37 mil­lion to flood-proof the road.

Whit­sun­day coun­cil­lors Jan Clif­ford, Ron Pet­ter­son and deputy mayor John Collins were present for the road-side an­nounce­ment by then leader of LNP Tim Ni­cholls and were in sup­port of the multi-mil­lion dol­lar pledge.

Mr Costi­gan wants to see an end to on­go­ing dis­rup­tion for vis­i­tors ar­riv­ing in Air­lie Beach from the Whit­sun­day Coast Air­port and school stu­dents ar­riv­ing in Proser­pine from Air­lie Beach and Can­non­vale.

“Peo­ple don’t want to get stuck, tourist op­er­a­tors don’t want their guests get­ting stuck, par­ents don’t want their kids get­ting stuck, hus­bands don’t want their preg­nant wives be­ing stuck,” he said.

An in­abil­ity of Air­lie Beach and Can­non­vale res­i­dents to ac­cess the Proser­pine Hos­pi­tal in case of an emer­gency was also raised by Mr Costi­gan.

From the side of the Shute Har­bour Rd yes­ter­day, the mem­ber for Whit­sun­day ac­cused the Palaszczuk La­bor Gov­ern­ment of aban­don­ing the peo­ple of the Whit­sun­day elec­torate.

“The Min­is­ter for Main Roads, I reckon has said to him­self ‘stuff the peo­ple of the Whit­sun­days, they won’t vote for us, they won’t vote La­bor so they can go with­out’,” Mr Costi­gan said.

Mr Bai­ley re­sponded by stat­ing, “Mr Costi­gan did noth­ing for roads in his elec­torate when in power, with his party strip­ping $600 mil­lion from the trans­port bud­get, and slash­ing Road­Tek jobs”.

“The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment has been in­vest­ing heav­ily in the Mackay-Whit­sun­days road net­work. The 2017-18 State Bud­get in­cludes $210 mil­lion this year and $1.13 bil­lion over four years in the Mackay Whit­sun­day district sup­port­ing around 1050 di­rect jobs.”

Wa­ter lap­ping at the side of the Bruce Hwy at Goor­ganga Plains for the last sev­eral days also prompted a call to ac­tion by the mem­ber for Whit­sun­day.

“It’s not rocket sci­ence what needs to be done,” Mr Costi­gan said.

PHOTO: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

FLOOD FIX: Mem­ber for Whit­sun­day Ja­son Costi­gan is con­tin­u­ing his push to fix the flood-prone Hamil­ton Plains as more rain is fore­cast due to TC Iris.

PHOTO: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

FLOOD PRONE: Both lanes of Shute Har­bour Rd at Hamil­ton Plains were un­der wa­ter yes­ter­day.

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