The Federal Government has announced it is investing in improving roads in Western Queensland which according to assistant minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Bucholtz will help ‘secure the economic future of the region’ with the recent Budget helping to build on the foundations for a post COVID-19 recovery.
Speaking at the Western Queensland Alliance of Council’s, Scott Buchholz told the assembled Mayor’s, Councillors and CEO’s that while there was always much to do in sprawling areas such as regional Queensland the Government was ‘putting money where its mouth is’.
“I have been to many of your shires, sat around many of your Council boardrooms and in some instances, travelled great distances with you on your local road networks.
“The firsthand experiences I’ve had on many of the roads means I understand the significant importance of your local land transport infrastructure – not just for the average road user or tourist, but for your industry’s.
“That is why we continue our investment in the regions, making your roads better, safer and more productive to unlock the economic potential of agriculture, mining and Western Queensland,” Scott Buchholz said.
North Queensland-based Senator, Susan McDonald, also attended the WQAC conference and said Western Queensland towns were important.
“We have to stop viewing Western Queensland towns as “government towns” reliant on public funding to keep going.
“We need to keep giving these towns the infrastructure, healthcare, internet connectivity and freedom to establish themselves as business hubs in their own right with the ability to grow their populations.
“I’m proud to continue pushing this case with the relevant Ministers in Canberra,” Senator McDonald said.
Scott Buchholz said examples of strong investment included Prairie Creek Bridge which had attracted $8 million in Federal funding through the REEF, along with $16 million for the Torrens Creek – Aramac Road and $10.4 million for the Richmond-Winton Road.
“Every sealed and unsealed road in and out of your rural towns carries freight, it means moving product from paddock or mine to port, and that means jobs,” Mr Buchholz said.
“It’s critical to your local economy, to our regional and national economy that we keep that freight moving, for jobs and our economic recovery.
“That is why we have a $110 billion plan for infrastructure over 10 years. It isn’t attainable to get it all done in one hit – get through what is on the table, then let’s keep going,” he said.
The 2021 Budget announced further funding of $400 million for Bruce Highway and critically, $400 million for the Inland Freight Route (Mungindi to Charters Towers).
Mr Buchholz said that was only a snapshot of the works around the region.
“We’ve seen a $4.7 million upgrade of the Ootan Road, now complete – and there is a range of other critical upgrades that keep communities and businesses connected – Coppermine Creek Bridge upgrade, the Federal Governments $16 million commitment to the Cloncurry-Dajarra Road upgrade, the list goes on,” Mr Buchholz said.
“But I want to be clear, we’ve been able to make these investments, we have been able to partner with your councils and in some instance the State Government – because we were in an economic position to do so pre-COVID.
“I look forward to continuing our productive relationships, to secure funding and deliver our pipeline of works for regional Queensland – to create jobs and secure the economic recovery,” Mr Buchholz said.