Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.
Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.

Llew’s loving Deb’s highway plan despite Feds holding firm

AFTER months of pushing for a four-lane bypass of Tiaro, Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien has welcomed the State Opposition's commitment to build a four-lane Bruce Highway from Curra to Cairns.

His push for a four-lane bypass left him at odds (again) with his own party.

Even now, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack remains committed to delivering a two-lane Tiaro bypass, in partnership with the Labor State Government.

Mr O'Brien said the upcoming state election was critical for Maryborough, the Fraser Coast and the future of Queensland.

He said he and Denis Chapman, the LNP candidate for Maryborough, had the same vision for Maryborough.

"We both want jobs in manufacturing, heavy industry, agriculture and forestry, and tourism, but that needs to be underpinned by new investments in the Bruce Highway to bring it to a safe four lane capacity to unlock our region's economic potential," he said.

"Denis Chapman and I fully support the LNP plan to four lane the Bruce Highway from Curra to Cairns.

"It's disappointing but not surprising that the Palaszczuk Labor Government does not.

"In our own patch we have had to wait years for the Bells Bridge intersection upgrade which was announced more than three years ago, and almost three years for the new Tinana overtaking lanes - and we are still waiting.

"Labor has failed miserably and we are left behind because of their neglect.

The Queensland Minister Road Safety Mark Bailey said any four lane upgrade around Tiaro was decades away. What's more he said "there is no issue about gridlock or hold-ups and there is not foreseen (to be) for the next couple of decades."

"Anyone who travels on the Bruce Highway north of Gympie like I do everyday knows how congested this section of the highway is and how much we need four lanes.

"By the time the ribbon is cut on a two-lane Tiaro bypass the project will already be past its use-by date.

"Two lanes isn't fit for the purpose of delivering a world class safe highway to keep motorists and their families safe and grow business and manufacturing in Maryborough.

"The latest publicly available data on traffic movements along the National Highway was released by AusRAP in 2016, and it showed around 7500 vehicles per day travelled on the Hume Highway between Goulburn and Yass in New South Wales, along a safe four lane separated highway.

"The same data from 2016 indicates that the number of vehicles travelling between Gympie and Tiaro was 9900 per day and the number of vehicles travelling between Tiaro and Childers was 8000 per day.

"According to the 2016 data the national highway between Goulburn and Yass had less traffic and is four lanes, but Tiaro has more and is not four lanes - nor would it be under the Palaszczuk Government "for the next couple of decades".

"Based on these traffic volumes - and not even taking into account the rapid traffic growth since 2016 - there should already be four lanes between Gympie and Maryborough and up to Childers.

"The Bruce Highway is part of the National Highway and it's time Governments stopped treating it as a poor cousin and commit to building it to the same safe standard as it is in New South Wales and Victoria.

"Our lives on the National Highway are just as important as those interstate.

"The LNP shares my position, and by working with Denis Chapman and Deb Frecklington I believe it will be achieved.

"But we also know with absolute certainty that it won't happen if Bruce Saunders and Labor are re-elected. Bruce Saunders had the chance to join me and call on his Minister Bailey to stump up the state's 20 per cent share of the funding for the Tiaro bypass but Bruce squibbed it.

"I'm keeping the pressure up on both sides.

"We know where we stand with the LNP and that's why it's so important for road safety and for the economic future of Maryborough and our state that we get behind and support Denis Chapman."

Mr Chapman said he was committed to a four-lane highway.

"Labor have neglected regional roads for too long, which has meant more crashes and fewer jobs for our communities," he said.

Mr Saunders has previously said if Mr O'Brien could get funding from the Federal Government for a four-lane Bruce Highway, he would support it.

He said if the LNP wanted to commit to a four-lane highway, there needed to be a clear outline of where the funding was coming from.

Mr Saunders said it wasn't good enough to say it would come from the Federal Government when Mr O'Brien had been unsuccessful in pushing for a four-lane bypass at Tiaro within his own party.

"You can't do this type of infrastructure without federal funding," he said.

Mr Saunders said there were concerns assets could be sold off to achieve the upgrade.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey was also contacted for comment.

Tune into the Fraser Coast election debates live on the Chronicle site on Tuesday night. Maryborough - 6.30pm, Hervey Bay - 7.30pm.

Meanwhile, if you've got a question email jessica.grewal1@news.com.au