Queensland trucking is celebrating an early win in the upcoming federal budget with a $400m boost revealed today to upgrade the Inland Freight Route.
Billed as the second Bruce Highway, the 1184km north-south route from Charters Towers in North Queensland to Mungindi on the New South Wales border is seen as a vital and reliable alternative.
The Queensland Trucking Association highlighted the urgent need for an Inland Freight Route in its Think Big Election Priorities for the Queensland State Election in 2020 and has campaigned hard for state and federal support.
The federal government has already committed $400m for the project from last year’s budget, with the state government offering $200m.
Upgrades will include realignments, overtaking lanes, flood resilience and drainage works, pavement widening and safety treatments.
“As a reliable alternative to the Bruce Highway during wet weather events, the Inland Freight Route also ensures regional towns and communities can continue to receive essential goods and services,” said a media release from the office of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
“Improving key freight routes will drive the growth of regional industries that produce wealth, like our mining and agriculture sectors.
“To become as strong as possible as quickly as possible, we must sell more of the products that make our country wealthy and strong.
“Slashing travel times for trucks mean the valuable commodities they carry can reach our ports more quickly and we get paid sooner.”
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said upgrading the Inland Freight Route would be a game-changer for regional and rural areas in Queensland.
“This additional investment to upgrade the Inland Freight Route ensures regional and rural areas in Queensland continue to get goods and services into their towns,” Landry said.
“Only the Coalition Government understands that an investment in our freight industry is an investment in Australia’s economy.”
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said the Inland Freight Route provides an important link to ports, boosting business for exporting industries.
“These upgrades will also better link Central Queensland to the southern states, ensuring the economic impact of the Inland Freight Route is felt far and wide,” O’Dowd said.