Tiaro Bypass – Speech in the House of Representatives 16/10/23
Hansard 16/10/2023 House of Representatives
Mr LLEW O’BRIEN (Wide Bay) (19:40): Before the last federal election I warned that the greatest risk to the four-lane Tiaro bypass would be the election of an Albanese Labor government, and the deafening silence now coming from the government ever since it jeopardised the project by subjecting it to an independent 90-day review of infrastructure projects is only reinforcing my view. It’s now been 169 days since the review was announced. The review has been completed, but the government is keeping us in the dark about which projects it will fund and those it will axe. Taxpayer funded infrastructure for the Brisbane Olympics was quarantined from the review, but the Albanese Labor government refused to give the lives of people travelling on our section of the Bruce Highway similar priority. Infrastructure for Brisbane Olympics will be in place long before we see four lanes between Curra and Maryborough. Now it’s 79 days overdue, and, every day longer this review lingers out of the hands of the report’s authors and in the minister’s office, it loses its independence. The government must release the report now.
In this year alone five people have tragically died along the dangerous two-lane section of the National Highway between Gympie and Maryborough. It’s a toll of devastating grief, sorrow and sadness for the victims and their families and friends in the communities affected by these horrific losses. We need to make the road as safe as possible and prevent crashes causing fatalities and serious injuries by eliminating the inherent hazards of a two-lane high-speed highway that is long past its expiry date. The Gympie bypass is expected to open later this year, extending the four-lane divided highway to Curra. But there are no commitments to extend the four lanes north from Curra to Maryborough, and this has to change. There are around 11,000 vehicle movements along this section of the National Highway per day, and, if this section was in any other jurisdiction, it would already have been four lanes.
We need the Tiaro bypass fast-tracked and prioritised, and we need four lanes from Curra to Maryborough, and the community wants it done. The early results from the Wide Bay community survey indicate that 80 per cent of respondents want a four-lane Tiaro bypass fast-tracked and 77 per cent want four lanes between Gympie and Maryborough. There are precedents for the fast-tracking of projects and upgrades of the Bruce Highway. When he was the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government in 2009, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese fast-tracked the four-lane Cooroy to Curra section of the Bruce Highway, section B of the project which goes around the non-existent Traveston Crossing dam. The former LNP Queensland government in 2013 fast-tracked Cooroy to Curra section A by committing 50 per cent of the funding, when the state’s share would normally have been only been 20 per cent. In 2015 my predecessor in Wide Bay, Warren Truss as Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, together with the Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mike Bailey, fast-tracked Corroy to Curra section C.
I implore the Albanese government to immediately release the review, and I call on them and the Queensland government to fast-track and prioritise the four-lane Tiaro Bypass and get on with making the whole section between Curra and Maryborough four lanes.