Senate debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020


Bertram Shallcross Bridge

5:31 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in this adjournment debate to make a few short remarks in relation to a delightful event I attended on 26 November 2020, which was the opening of the Bertram Shallcross bridge within the jurisdiction of Somerset Regional Council. The Australian government contributed over $600,000 to the rebuilding of this bridge, the demolition of the existing bridge, construction of a new two-lane bridge and minor changes to road alignment. That funding of $606,574 under round 3 of the Bridges Renewal Program was matched by the Somerset Regional Council, who contributed the sum of $618,469.

The major benefit of the renewal, the rebuilding, the replacement of this bridge is that it will reduce trips by 6.5 kilometres compared to the state highway in the local area, improving safety and increasing flood immunity. Vehicle traffic has been increasing on the route since the bridge was completed. In fact, my speech contributing to the event to open the bridge was drowned out from time to time by the great lot of traffic that was going across the newly constructed bridge.

I'd like to convey the substance of the remarks I made at the bridge opening, and that included my congratulations to the Somerset Regional Council, led by the indefatigable mayor, Councillor Graeme Lehmann, who might be the longest serving current mayor in Queensland—or at least he's one of them. He's provided outstanding representation to the Somerset region, in conjunction with all of the councillors. On the day, when I wasn't being drowned out by the increased traffic arising from the construction of this great bridge, I said that, for any infrastructure the federal government contributes to the cost of that is undertaken and executed by Somerset Regional Council, the federal government knows that the Somerset Regional Council will make sure it's well costed, well planned and well executed. That was certainly the case with respect to this bridge. I pay tribute to all the Somerset Regional Council workers who worked on the bridge and also to the SES volunteers from the local area who assisted with the opening ceremony.

I should say I did not open the bridge. I was delighted to witness the opening of the bridge by Mrs Carmel Shallcross, the widow of Mr Bertram Shallcross. I must say that she did a wonderful job in opening the bridge, and it was a great honour to be in her presence and also in the presence of some of her family members. I'd like to quote to you from an email I received from Geoff Shallcross, the son of Carmel, who gave an overview with respect to the contribution made by the Shallcross family in that region. He said: 'The Shallcross family has been within the district for a very long time. We moved from the Mount Mee area in the 1890s to Highwood Lane, Kilcoy, then selected the property Deerhurst on New Country Creek in 1916. As part of the selection, scrub had to be cleared and farming started. The family of Bertram Shallcross's wife, Carmel, who opened the bridge, the Ruckers, owned Wattle Glen next door and this property was bought by Bert before they were married. They then together bought further properties in this area, including Windy Valley.' So the family has long been associated with this area and this bridge.

Geoff Shallcross said, 'I'm sure even the Roman road builders would be proud of this one!' I absolutely agree. He told me a great anecdote about what happened before this two-lane bridge was constructed. When it was a one-lane bridge the protocol was that, if you were coming from the town, you were given right of way—because it was a big deal to go to the town. So if you were coming from the town when it was a one-way bridge you were given right of way. That was the protocol. But Geoff did tell me that perhaps the real reason was that, if you were coming from town, maybe you'd gone to the local pub and it was wise to give way to you! That's just one of the many stories that make this country so great.