Tuesday, 8 November 2016
There are a lot of reasons why I am very proud to be a member of a coalition government. It is not just because we are the government that balances the books of the nation and fixes Labor's mess, and it is not just because we are the government that understands families and how to protect those families. It is also about the fact that we are the government that knows how to build infrastructure—and don't we do that well?
Tonight I would like to focus mostly on one particular point of infrastructure, a project that the coalition has made great achievements with, and that is the Cooroy to Curra upgrade of the Bruce Highway. It is a 62-kilometre project that runs right through the federal division of Wide Bay. It is a four-lane upgrade and realignment that runs, obviously, from Cooroy to Curra, and it bypasses Gympie.
The Cooroy to Curra section of the Bruce Highway has been rated as one of the most dangerous sections of the Bruce Highway in the past, and unfortunately I have seen that firsthand. As a police officer and trained forensic accident investigator, I had the task of attending many tragic fatalities on that section of highway. Quite often I would get a call in the middle of the night and I would be called out to some of the most horrific and tragic scenes that you could possibly imagine. So you would understand why I am passionate about this project. From 2002 to 2014, 50 people were killed on that stretch of highway, and that is a real tragedy.
At the 2013 election, my predecessor, Warren Truss, announced that he would be committing some $2 billion towards this project to upgrade, particularly, section C and section A, because section B had already been completed, partly because it needed to go around a dam that the Labor Party wanted to build called the Traveston dam—and what a fiasco that was. Indeed, I think that was the last time they paid any attention to building a dam in Queensland, and they certainly are not interested in it right now. We now need to maintain the momentum that Warren Truss set, particularly in his last term, and get section D up and running. Section C is being constructed now and is likely to be fixed, weather permitting, mid next year. I did a tour of section C only last week and was very impressed with what I saw. There are not too many things more impressive, in terms of building roads, than travelling along a brand-new four-lane highway that is a completely new corridor for transport, and that is what they are doing there now.
Section C is an 80-20 funding split between the Commonwealth and the states, and it comprises some 12 kilometres and is priced at $388 million. It will provide about 400 jobs. But it is more than the jobs in construction that the coalition understands; it is the jobs that a project like this creates in the regional area that it services. My area of Wide Bay is in great need of a highway like this, and that is what we are delivering. People such as the Nolans, a big employer in our area—a meat-processing plant—tell me that this upgrade of the highway will be a great improvement to their business. Tim Jensen, one of the operators of BLU Logistics, another great company—a logistics company based in Gympie—tells me that this will make a big difference to his company. Richers Transport in Maryborough are another company that have told me that section C and section D of the Bruce Highway are much-needed pieces of infrastructure. It is vitally important that we fund section D. We have recently committed $50 million to detailed spending. Once again, we are the party of building infrastructure. We are building this new corridor and we need to continue to make sure that the seat of Wide Bay is well serviced.