Millar drives call for road funding

PASSIONATE: Gregory MP Lachlan Millar earlier this year tabling a petition to Parliament to seal the final 50kms of the Clermont-Alpha Highway Link Road.
PASSIONATE: Gregory MP Lachlan Millar earlier this year tabling a petition to Parliament to seal the final 50kms of the Clermont-Alpha Highway Link Road. Amber Hooker

GREGORY MP Lachlan Millar has come out swinging at the State Government, saying it's time to "knuckle down and get serious about regional road funding".

In welcoming the Inland Queensland Roads Action Plan (IQ-RAP) - which projects a 15-year strategic view of the western road network - a passionate Mr Millar said the state's failure to "adequately fund the maintenance and improvement" of Queensland's regional road network was costing lives.

He said the Department of Transport's own Summary of Queensland Road Fatalities 2014 report showed more than 70% of road fatalities occurred in regional Queensland.

But his key criticism was of the Department's Queensland Transport and Road Investment Program (QTRIP), which details the current transport and road projects the government plans to deliver over the next four years.

"My electorate covers a fifth of Queensland and central Queensland at that," Mr Millar said.

"That location means we are logistically vital to the freight and travel task in Queensland.

"Gregory roads are very much under-funded in this QTRIP.

"Most of the $40 million allocated for the Western Roads Upgrade Program is earmarked for the north-west not the central-west while Gregory's easterly roads fare no better in the program highlights for the Fitzroy District.

"There is only approved funding up to 2016-17 mark. After that it appears to be literally a wish list. In contrast, the IQ-RAP takes a 15-year view with a $5 billion funding plan which will boost Queensland freight movements, productivity, road safety and regional Queensland development."

In response to Mr Millar's concerns, Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports Mark Bailey MP said IQ-RAP is not a funded program, unlike QTRAP, and said the Palaszczuk government understands the importance of investing in road infrastructure right through the state.

"Our $40 million Western Roads Upgrade Package, comprising 14 regional priority road projects across western Queensland, includes $13 million to upgrade the Diamantina Developmental Rd, a large portion of which is the Gregory electorate," he said.

"The Palaszczuk Government is also investing in western Queensland through the Transport Infrastructure Development Scheme (TIDS), working with local governments to support road infrastructure."

Mr Bailey went on to slam the LNP government's cuts of $23 million each financial year towards TIDS while in government.

The IQ-RAP has the financial backing from 28 councils, eight regional road and transport groups, four RDA committees as well as RACQ, the IQ-RAP will cover three quarters of Queensland's area west of the Bruce Hwy and outside the south-east Queensland zone.

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