QTA welcomes Labor election pledge to support its inland highway proposal

inland highway

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has given her support to the Queensland Trucking Association’s proposal for an inland freight highway while on the campaign trail today.

Touring the $514 million Bruce Highway upgrade at the Haughton River south of Townsville, Palaszczuk said Labor will also improve the inland Townsville to Roma corridor by committing $200 million for the ‘Second Bruce’ to take trucks off the Bruce Highway.

That idea was on of the six key actions recommended by the QTA in its state election blueprint, which it briefed state and federal ministers on.

“Access for safer high productivity vehicles on key freight routes in Queensland is significantly limited particularly by bridge infrastructure requiring upgrades,” reiterated QTA CEO Gary Mahon in a communique to his members earlier today.

“These freight routes must be unlocked to increase the connectivity of key production areas, to export markets and ports in Queensland as a prominent example.

“We are pleased as your Association that our industry ideas, views and policy priorities have been heard and acted upon in different ways. We will continue to strongly urge the next Queensland Government to direct more economic stimulus monies to essential key road assets to unlock efficiencies and connect key freight routes.”

inland highway

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said Labor’s commitment to the inland roadway and bridge upgrades is a win for the freight industry.

“Labor’s Real Bruce Plan will take trucks off the Bruce Highway by building capacity on the Second Bruce to improve safety and reduce travel times for freight,” Stewart said.

“Encouraging trucks to head inland means less trucks heading through local communities along the highway, from Gympie to Townsville.

“Transport industry modelling has estimated trucks travelling between Far North Queensland and Melbourne on upgraded inland highways could save up to five hours on a single one-way trip.”

Key opportunities of the Second Bruce plan include:

  • Reducing truck movements on the existing Bruce Highway up to 49 per cent
  • Cutting freight travel times between North Queensland and key markets in Sydney and Melbourne
  • Upgrading inland highway bridges to suit larger vehicle combinations
  • Prioritising maintenance and highway upgrades to meet heavy haulage standards
  • Offering a reliable alternate freight connection to access regional and remote communities cut off by natural disasters
  • Generating new regional jobs at food, accommodation and rest stop businesses to meet demand from increased inland truck movements.

Following Labor’s announcement about the proposed Second Bruce, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, issued a statement of his own, wondering where it would be funded.

“The Australian Government has a strong $10 billion commitment to the existing Bruce Highway – money which is already allocated to several upgrades and projects,” he said.

“That Federal money has already been committed – it is for Queensland Labor to explain which part of the existing Bruce Highway it wants to rip money from to fund today’s thought bubble.”

He added that in addition to $10 billion for the Bruce Highway, the Australian Government has invested significantly in the inland road network in Queensland to support the efficient and safe movement of people and freight, including more than $1 billion under the popular Roads of Strategic Importance program (ROSI).

“Making elections commitments is fine, but when you promise to spend money already allocated to existing projects, you need to be transparent about the communities from which you intend on stripping funding.”

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