Fatal crash numbers ‘wake-up call’ for better roads
DEATHS on Mackay region roads almost doubled over the past two years.
The number of fatalities across Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday went from 12 deaths in 2018-19 to 21 deaths in 2019-20.
During the same time frame, deaths on Townsville roads were up 30 per cent while the number killed in outback Queensland increased almost 25 per cent.
These shocking statistics have prompted impassioned calls from Katter’s Australian Party Leader Robbie Katter for better roads and more funding for regional Queensland.
Mr Katter said the government continued to prioritise the south-east over regional roads, pointing to the multi-billion dollar Cross River Rail project which is now rumoured to have blown out to $12 billion.
“I must ask, If Brisbane was seeing a 25 to 30 per cent increase in annual road deaths would the State Government be sitting on their hands?,” he said.
“If that is not a wake up call I don’t know what is.”
Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said there were “record levels” of road funding in North Queensland.
“There has never been more funding for roads in North Queensland or North West Queensland,” he said.
“Our data shows more regional Queenslanders die in crashes than their city-based counterparts because they weren’t wearing a seatbelts.
“Our government has lead the way in road safety by introducing the toughest fines in Australia for drivers who are distracted, while driving, by their mobile phone.”
Mr Katter said the increase in fatalities was worrying considering peak season tourists were not on the roads this year because of the coronavirus.
The State Government says it has committed $12 billion dollars over 15 years for the Bruce Highway Upgrade Program and $1 billion annually for the controversial Bruce Highway Trust.
Mr Katter said he was sceptical of the figures.
“The first rule of thumb with big announcements like those is the money is always going to keep draining down to where the population is,” he said.
“There will be some good things that come out of that $12 billion no doubt.
“But rest assured the majority will keep filtering back down … and does not get to where it is needed.”
As part of its election campaign, KAP has proposed a driver safety facility for North Queensland.
The closest drive training facility is in Gympie, almost 800km away from Mackay.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said road quality was not the sole contributor to crashes and better education for young drivers was essential.