MPs tour region's roads
"IT'S almost life and death, them just trying to do their job.”
That is one of the key messages for Shadow Minister for Transport and Main Roads Steve Minnikin after he toured the roads of the Callide electorate earlier this week.
Mr Minnikin joined Callide MP and truck driver Colin Boyce in his Mack truck for a State of the Roads road trip that started in Biloela and took them through the electorate taking in Chinchilla, Miles, Wandoan and Taroom.
Mr Minnikin said the tour has been an eye opener with two messages.
"When you're actually beside someone in a ... Mack truck and you're bouncing up and down and it's just out of control, some sections were terrible, and it really drives home the fact that we need to have these economy arteries to get produce to market,” he said.
During the tour, Mr Boyce and Mr Minnikin made several stops to hear stories from locals about the personal toll poor quality roads have taken on communities.
"There was a lady who looked at me pretty much with desperation in her eyes ... who has two primary aged kids: they do a 65km round trip each day on the school bus route and she just said that the condition of that road, when she kisses them good morning to see them off to school she just prays that they're actually going to get home in one piece,” Mr Minnikin said.
"We spoke to two ladies who have the contract for the post run and they've just said what they go through, it's almost life and death them just trying to do their job.”
Mr Boyce agreed.
"This major arterial route is in a very poor state of repair, a road that was never designed to carry that amount of traffic and that tonnage of traffic,” he said.
Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said it is great to see state members taking an interest in the region's road network and getting their "footprints in the paddock”.
"We've got one of the largest network of roads in Queensland and it's about our connectivity, we need our producers, our primary producers to be able to get their produce out in a safe manner on good roads,” Mr McVeigh said.
"We are the food bowl of our nation and one of the things we need to be able to deliver is produce to the market in a timely manner.
"We do see some major issues come across and it is about the long-term funding of roads and whilst the road today might be in quite good condition, the capacity of a council to be able to continue to repair those roads is challenging.
"So one of the things we are seeking from both state and federal is that financial support so we can deliver back to our communities at a local level and good quality roads.
Member for Warrego Ann Leahy was present for the tour's stop in Chinchilla, where she said she was "very supportive of trying to make sure we can get that money to flow through to councils and to Main Roads.”
"You've got to see it to understand it, and it's great that he is here, because I can't say the same for the Director General of the Department of Main Roads, who I have invited regularly to come and drive roads, or the Minister for that matter,” she said.
Overall, Mr Minnikin said the trip highlights the importance of the central Queensland road network.
"Unless they're pumping the economy's not pumping,” he said.
"So given the fact that we're staring at, over the next few years, in excess of $80 billion worth of debt, we need to spend some money to make money and these roads aren't just roads, they really are economic arteries, and they need to be treated as such.
"I'm hoping the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Minister Mark Bailey, will ... come out and start to get serious when it comes to addressing some of the concerns of central Queensland road users.
"I'd urge him to actually take up the offer.”