Welcoming the launch of the Inland Queensland Roads Action Plan (IQ-RAP) today, Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said the failure to adequately fund the maintenance and improvement of Queensland’s regional road network was highlighted by a report at the end of 2015 showing that the vast majority of road fatalities happen in regional Queensland.
The 2014 Summary of Queensland Road Fatalities, released by the Department of Transport and Main Roads at the end of 2015, shows that over 70% of Queensland road fatalities occurred in regional Queensland.
“While there are many contributing factors, the condition of our inland roads and bridges is the one that unites all regional drivers,” said Mr Millar.
“As a regional MP I am always begging to get my constituents road funding, while money is poured into road projects in the south-east corner. Queensland is a big state and a decentralised state and roads are our most essential piece of economic infrastructure. This needs to inform our road funding in a meaningful way.
“Virtually every export we sell must travel to port or to market over regional roads. Roads are key to developing our tourism industry. Roads are key to our economic performance.
“When our regional roads are clearly killers – as shown by the Department’s own report – then I hope the Palaszczuk Government will seriously start allocating adequate funding to our regional road network in this year’s budget,” he said.
Mr Millar said the IQ-RAP was created by an alliance of 47 organisations, including 33 regional councils.
“It takes a strategic, long-term view of the road network which is long over-due,” he said.
“At the moment, planning and funding of Queensland’s road infrastructure works are published by the Department in the Queensland Transport and Road Investment Program (QTRIP) for four year blocks.
“I have two major concerns with the current QTRIP. My electorate covers a fifth of Queensland and central Queensland at that. That location means we are logistically vital to the freight and travel task in Queensland. Gregory roads are very much underfunded in this QTRIP. Most of the $40 Million allocated for the Western Roads Upgrade Program is earmarked for the north-west not the central-west while Gregory’s easterly roads fare no better in the program highlights for the Fitzroy District,” said Mr Millar.
Mr Millar said of even more fundamental concern is that the funding only appears secure for the first two years of the four year plan.
“There is only approved funding up to the 2016-17 mark. After that it appears to be literally a wish list. In contrast, the IQ-RAP takes a 15 year view with a $5billion funding plan which will boost Queensland freight movements, productivity, road safety and regional Queensland development.
“I urge the Government to knuckle down and get serious about regional road funding. It is literally killing Queensland and killing Queenslanders,” he said.