Bruce Highway Trust to future-proof state’s economic artery

November 06, 2017

The Palaszczuk Government says a new Bruce Highway Trust overseeing investment of $1 billion a year to improve the state’s longest transport and economic artery will help build on record exports and create jobs.

Inspecting the Mackay Ring Road project to launch the Future-proofing the Bruce policy, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Bruce Highway played an essential role in the life of Queensland and its economy.

“Future-proofing the Bruce is not just about making it quicker and safer to get from A to B,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It’s about boosting our economic growth and our exports — already a record $70.8 billion in the year to September — through more efficient transport of goods from our regional producers to the rest of Australia and the world.

“It’s about jobs, with extra and more efficient economic activity supporting existing jobs and creating new ones. The cities, towns and regions that the Bruce connects, already support an estimated 600,000 jobs.

“It’s about delivering a 1700 km world-class highway that’s resistant to cyclones and floods so we can better protect local communities, keep our state moving in times of disaster, and cut repair and restoration bills into the future.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the Future-proofing the Bruce policy would:

  • establish the Bruce Highway Trust to identify priorities through a 15-year forward

    plan and invest $1 billion in projects delivering long-term planning certainty under

    five-year action plans

  • commit $200 million annually to the Trust and provide an initial injection of $175

    million for targeted productivity-boosting, safety and flood resilience projects

  • bring forward the upgrade of the Townsville Ring Road to a dual-carriageway

    between Douglas and Bohle Plains

  • fight for Queensland’s fair share of Federal Government funding and return of the

    $116 million raided by the Turnbull Government from the Bruce Highway

    Upgrade Program

  • complete the Gympie bypass with the construction of the final missing link –

    Cooroy to Curra (Section D).

The Premier said the $1 billion a year spending was based on the Federal Government meeting its fair share of funding commitments consistent with the funding arrangements for the National Land Transport Network.

Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the Trust, chaired by an eminent Queenslander and with a deputy chair nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, aimed to take politics out of Bruce Highway funding.

“We need to future-proof the Bruce because it links major business centres with five major ports and carries millions of tonnes of our export goods — meat, livestock, sugar, grain, fruit and vegetables, and manufactured products,” Mr Bailey said.

“It’s also vital for tourism and tourism jobs — thousands of Queenslanders and international and interstate tourists rely upon the Bruce Highway for some part of their visit to our state.”

The Premier said right now we see too many accidents and floods cutting the highway too often.

“We also see too much politics being played with Bruce Highway projects and funding,” she said.

“My government is committed to the $8.5 billion federal-state Bruce Highway Upgrade Program which was intended to provide investment certainty through to 2022-2023,” she said.

“But the Federal LNP Government has raided the fund to the tune of $116 million from the program in 2020-21.”

Mr Bailey said the former Newman-Nicholls Government had a track record of cutting road and transport funding.

“It’s a fact that the Nicholls-Newman Government cut more than $600 million from roads and transport infrastructure funding, and RoadTek lost over 700 staff members.

“That even included $60 million cut for road safety initiatives, $73 million cut from cycling infrastructure programs.

“At the same time, the LNP government under Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls were fast-tracking plans for privatisation and outsourcing across the Department of Transport and Main Road.

“They spent more than $30 million in taxpayer money on this work – all while pretending they would ask Queenslanders whether they wished to go ahead with asset sales.

“The Tim Nicholls’ cut, sack and sell approach had a massive impact on Queensland’s road and transport sector – an impact that my government is still working to repair,” Mr Bailey said.

Media contact:

  • Geoff Breusch (Premier’s office) 0417 272 875

  • Zoe Russell (Minister’s office) 0428 079 640