By Michelle Thomas and Amy Kelly
Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan announced Queensland has been granted a $1.2 billion injection into road and rail infrastructure in last night’s Budget.
Mr Swan said the money would be spent on major upgrades to the Bruce Highway, which would see flood-proofing as one of the main priorities.
The highway, which is Queensland’s main transport artery, has been cut 446 times in the last two years because of flooding.
However, Ed Warren from Queensland’s Central West Council of Mayors, says more attention needs to be given to the state’s inland transport routes, which are used as an alternative when the Bruce Highway is cut.
“[The Government] should consider that route as an alternative and keep up the capital improvements and maintenance on it which is some 15 or 20 years behind,” he said.
Mr Warren said as well as the inconvenience caused to drivers, the frequency of cuts to the Bruce Highway posed a threat to vital food supplies to North Queensland and the Northern Territory.
“During the Brisbane floods, because all the food distribution comes out of Brisbane, all of Queensland and half of the Northern Territory were at a critical level because they could not get food,” he said.
“The roads were closed at Rockhampton and Emerald and the only conceivable route accessible to Mackay, Townsville and Cairns and that area was by … the inland routes.”
In an interview on ABC radio, Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese agreed the Bruce Highway needed an upgrade, saying it was “not up to the standard that it should be”.
Funding has also been allocated for the long-awaited Brisbane to Moreton Bay Rail Link, which will link Brisbane to the Redcliffe Peninsula.