Team work brings $1billion Gympie project forward 5 years
THE Gympie Times has been a vital thread in the Gympie region story since the first edition rolled off the press 150 years ago.
What an incredibly proud and momentous occasion it was yesterday, as editor of this small but wiry publication, when Acting PM Michael McCormack, Hinkler MP Keith Pitt and our very own Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien stood together on the side of the Bruce Hwy and pledged to fast-track the $800 million to finish the Gympie bypass.
The State Government reconfirmed its commitment to putting up the other $200 million soon after.
With an estimated 30 deaths in eight years between Gympie and Maryborough it would not be out of line to suggest that bringing Section D forward by five years will save at least 30, probably more like 50 lives, many of them local sons, wives, husbands and daughters.
I thank and congratulate Mr O'Brien, whose genuine passion on the issue of road trauma fuels his argument and impact where it counts - in Canberra.
Together we have proven what we can achieve if we work as a team - anything.
The Gympie Times' campaigns for this region over the years have been frequent, and frequently successful, but up until now, nothing has been so important.
This is literally life and death.
Eliminating the spectre of danger and trauma from the highway in this region will be like removing a millstone from around our neck.
There will no doubt be a time of transition once the highway opens, especially for those businesses impacted by the loss of highway traffic, and those property owners impacted by the new highway corridor.
None of these people must be forgotten in that transition. All must be helped through.
In his address to the gathered media yesterday, Mr O'Brien thanked The Gympie Times, acknowledging our decades of campaigning. He also thanked the victims who had "dug really deep" to contribute to the dossier presented to PM Malcolm Turnbull.
"There will be people walking around in years to come who won't know that their life has been saved by this road - but it will have been," Mr O'Brien said.
"I want to say that this achievement has been a team effort; The Gympie Times particularly has been campaigning for this upgrade for decades. I had the support of the last four editors from 1986, through to Shelley Strachan when I met with the Prime Minister."
Indeed he did, and what a wonderful result for this whole region. Bravo!