MR ENTSCH: Mr Speaker, I rose in this chamber on two occasions last week to call out the Queensland Government of its blatant neglect of Far North Queensland.
They are starving Far North Queensland of much-needed investment for one reason and one reason only – to help their federal colleagues.
They are not only starving Far North Queensland of investment, their actions are also putting in jeopardy millions, if not billions of dollars’ of third-party investment.
Traffic congestion, especially in and out of the northern beaches, has been a major issue for many years now.
Granted, the Queensland Government finally came to the party and funded the Smithfield Bypass, but only at the eleventh hour and only to help their local MP during last year’s state election.
However, the first step in fixing the entire issue is to ensure the current road from the CBD to Smithfield is redesignated as an A1 national highway.
This can only occur with the Queensland Government’s assistance.
I have personally written to the Queensland Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey requesting that he make a submission to have this stretch of state-owned road redesignated as national highway.
Mr Bailey hasn’t bothered to reply to my letter but suggested in the local media that a letter from a backbencher wasn’t worth much.
How arrogant is that.
But then again Mr Bailey has also ignored similar letters from the Cairns Mayor and Advance Cairns.
Maybe if I was a union boss and used Mr Bailey’s private email account I would have had better luck.
Mr Speaker, the Queensland Government’s agenda here is very simple – remain quiet about the issue, blame the federal government for a lack of funding and let Bill Shorten roll into town with a half-cooked, half-baked funding announcement so he looks like the hero.
However, in this instance, it made Bill Shorten looks like a dunce.
His grandiose announcement of $40 million towards a $157 million section of the project is well short of any type of traditional funding split.
I said at the time he had not done in homework and I was right.
Mr Speaker, the cost for the entire project from Ray Jones Drive to the Smithfield Bypass is about $370 million.
I spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack only last week and stressed to him the importance of this project.
In fact, I told Mr McCormack we needed to call the Queensland Government out on this and put our money where our mouth is.
Once we do that, the onus will be on the Queensland Government to explain why they couldn’t be bothered funding the project.
Only this week, State Barron River MP and Minister, Craig Crawford had the hide to tell the Far North Queensland community that it would be near-impossible to get infrastructure money out of the Queensland Labor Government unless it was for . . . wait for it, Cross River Rail in Brisbane.
What a slap in the face that is to each and every single Far North Queenslander.
The time for the Queensland Government’s buck-passing is over.
It is now time they step up to the plate and start governing for Far North Queenslanders instead of governing for the benefit of their federal colleagues.
Far North Queensland has wall-to-wall State Labor MPs – it about time they start putting the interests of Cairns and Far North Queensland, first.
Why have these local MPs sat idly by and watched their government funnel millions of dollars to Townsville and the South-East corner without even raising a whisper?
It is time Far North Queenslanders start asking why the Palaszczuk Government keep treating them like second-class citizens.