‘You can’t put a price on human lives’: MP firm on Hwy stand
WIDE Bay MP Llew O'Brien has continued to fight for a four-lane Tiaro bypass, arguing cost-saving with a two-lane option is putting a price on human lives.
Mr O'Brien made an impassioned speech on the subject in federal parliament this week.
The former police officer made is clear last month he would not back the proposed two-lane bypass jointly supported by the Federal Coalition and the State Government.
"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?" Mr O'Brien said.
"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."
Mr O'Brien said the upgrade 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," he said.
"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 than they are today."
Former transport ministers had the foresight to ensure that the Gunalda Range crossing was done properly, Mr O'Brien.
"Transport ministers Mark Bailey and Michael McCormack, I believe, are genuine about road safety," he said.
"I ask them: please bring forward a plan and fund a four-lane bypass around Tiaro."
Last month, Mr McCormack said he respected Mr O'Brien's views on the matter.
"The Member for Wide Bay stands up for the people of his community every day and we acknowledge his strong views on the Tiaro Bypass project," he said.
"The Deputy Prime Minister has previously said that the differences of opinion and diversity of views by Members representing their communities is a critical part of the democratic process, and unlike the Labor Party, we do not sanction Members for sharing their views on matters."
His office has been contacted for further response.
Mr Bailey's office has also been contacted for a response.