Regional residents urged to apply for highway advisory body
The State Government is seeking regional representatives to join a Bruce Highway advisory body, as billions of dollars are spent on the 1677km stretch of road.
Six positions are available at the Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council for people who live anywhere along the highway north of Gympie and regularly use it, and are road safety or regional development experts.
The trust was promised in 2017 and met twice last year to help shape three five-year plans for the highway, and the State Government is now expanding it to incorporate more regional voices.
Bruce Highway Trust chairman Peter Garske said the group counselled the government on the efficiency, safety, and flood protection of the highway.
“We need people up and down the coast who travel the road, daily for some, certainly for the truck drivers, but for the local regional communities, they need to have input,” he said.
“It’s our role to monitor. We don’t sit around and plan the roadworks … but we are there to offer our view about the priority of that work and the priority of the projects up and down the length of the highway.”
Regional Roads Assistant Minister Bruce Saunders said the jobs were not meant for the politically-minded.
“As a politician, I’ll be quite frank, we ride a horse called self-interest, but this trust headed by Peter will make sure the money goes where it should be spent,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure we get the right people, because this is not a job for any political person.
“We’re over politics on the roadworks - we’re looking for people to make sure that the right thing’s done by the people of Queensland who are going to use the Bruce Highway.”
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said it was “critical” to get regional representatives on the highway council.
“We need people who are users of the Bruce Highway, who are experts in the Bruce Highway, who know what the Bruce Highway needs now and into the future, so that we can get the best value for money in future upgrades on the Bruce.
“The Bruce Highway acts as a main artery right up the coast of Queensland, and the veins that come off it flow the tourists, the locals, the visitors, the jobs, the business, and our economy.
“We also need local jobs out of the improvements to our Bruce Highway.”
Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke said: “I really do ask people to actually step up and apply for those roles.
“We’re [regional people] used to doing the long trips on our highways and we know where important infrastructure is required.”
Shadow Transport Minister Steve Minnikin said road users needed “more action, less talking”.
“The Road Minister’s track record on road infrastructure spending is appalling,” he said.
“Every pothole you see on the Bruce Highway is just a small part of the $6 billion road maintenance backlog that has grown under the Labor Government.
“Common sense has finally prevailed with changes to the Bruce Highway Trust.
“It was set up by the State Government in 2017 but only had its first meeting last year.
“How can Queenslanders trust the Minister to build infrastructure if it takes three years to organise a meeting?
“More concerning is the fact that not one person north of Gympie was represented.”
He said the Bruce Highway was in “desperate need of immediate upgrades”.
“Queensland’s road toll is 15 more than this time last year,” Mr Minnikin said.
“Now is the time to act.”
Nominations for the council close on March 30.
Current Trust Advisory Council members
– Chair Peter Garske, Queensland Transport and Logistics Council director and former Queensland Trucking Association CEO
– Deputy Chair Barbara Madden, Smithfield Group company director
– Greg Hallam, Local Government Association of Queensland CEO
– Dr Rebecca Michael, Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Head of Public Policy
– Gary Mahon, Queensland Trucking Association CEO
– Dr Georgina Davis, Queensland Farmers’ Federation CEO
– Daniel Gschwind, Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO
– Peter Biagini, Transport Workers’ Union branch secretary