Hansard 10:50 31/08/2020 Federation Chamber
Mr LLEW O’BRIEN (Wide Bay—Deputy Speaker) (10:51):
The New South Wales town of Gunning is 244 kilometres from the Sydney GPO along the National Highway.
Gunning is bypassed by a four-lane divided highway. In Victoria, 235 kilometres from Melbourne’s GPO, plans are underway to duplicate the National Highway to Stawell.
In Gippsland, 216 kilometres from the GPO, federal funding is going towards a 43-kilometre duplication of the Princes Highway around Sale, which isn’t even part of the National Highway.
Why it is that in regional areas of these other eastern states the National Highway and the Princes Highway are updated with four-lane divided highways, but in Queensland, 232 kilometres from the Brisbane GPO, the National Highway is not?
You can’t put a price on human lives, but that’s exactly what the state and federal government will be doing if they impose their low-cost proposal for a two-lane bypass of Tiaro in Wide Bay on the Bruce Highway.
The $107 million proposed design is already killing Queenslanders. The two-lane proposal doesn’t meet the highest possible road safety standards and it does not meet community expectations.
Two lanes of high-speed traffic travelling head on is a recipe for disaster. Even if a barrier separating the lanes is added, a two-lane design will not last the test of time.
Vehicles break down, some move slowly, and wide loads cause traffic to bank up, all potentially closing, clogging and congesting the two lane route, frustrating emergency services and wasting precious minutes when they’re trying to save a life.
This is a national highway connecting rural and regional towns to major cities and major centres.
It should be built to the highest standard.
If four lanes is good enough for the non-national Princes Highway, it is essential for the national Bruce Highway at Tiaro.
In 1998 the state and federal governments funded the Gunalda Range crossing.
The Gunalda Range crossing, south of Tiaro, is a four-kilometre stretch of highway that is four lanes and divided, enabling traffic to pass slow vehicles and ensuring that the highway can remain open in the event of a breakdown.
You can’t tell me that traffic volumes were more then than they are today. Former transport ministers had the foresight to ensure that the Gunalda Range crossing was done properly.
Transport ministers Mark Bailey and Michael McCormack, I believe, are genuine about road safety.
I ask them: please bring forward a plan and fund a four-lane bypass around Tiaro.