Jobs and connectivity by road, rail and air in Queensland’s west is a key focus of the Palaszczuk Government’s record transport budget.
Making the announcement today at the $8.3 million Barkly Highway upgrade in Mt Isa, Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said outback communities and businesses would benefit from a $14.5 billion, four-year regional roads and transport program, which would create more than 13,500 jobs.
“When the outback thrives, Queensland thrives. That’s why our budget focusses on building the infrastructure and delivering the services outback Queensland needs to connect locals, create jobs and boost our agriculture and resource sectors,” Mr Bailey said.
Queensland’s North West Mineral Province contains about 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and phosphate deposits.
“In this budget, the Palaszczuk Government will continue its $380 million investment over five years to maintain and improve the line, making the freight journey faster and more reliable.
“We’re also working with the resources industry to make rail freight more competitive, and will now provide $80 million over four years to reduce rail access charges on the Mount Isa Line, to drive the shift from road to rail.
“More than $15 million will go towards sealing key sections of the road from Cloncurry to Dajarra and Savannah Way, unlocking better connectivity for regional communities and tourism.
“We will work with the Australian Government to develop better inland freight routes, with $50 million committed towards Townsville to Tennant Creek corridor upgrades.
“After paving and sealing parts of Diamantina Developmental Road last financial year, we’ll now look to seal various sections of Kennedy Developmental Road between Hughenden and Winton, and complete sealing of key stretches along Richmond-Winton Road.
“The Palaszczuk Government will also start the Top Limestone Creek floodway upgrade on the Diamantina Developmental Road between Boulia and Dajarra, and with joint-funding from Boulia council and the Federal Government, commence paving and sealing of additional sections of the Donohue Highway.
“Ensuring that our existing roads are maintained is also a key aspect of the budget, and in 2019-20, we’ll begin resealing national and state road across the North West.
“We’ll also continue to plan for future transport needs in the region, with plans to complete a detailed route strategy for the Barkly and Flinders highways, and review the Eyre Developmental Road between Bedourie and Birdsville.
Mr Bailey said the budget would also secure ongoing funding for the local fares scheme and regulated air routes program.
“Many remote communities are often a day’s drive from regional hubs, and these programs play an important role in helping our remotest residents get to work, appointments and other important services.
“The Local Fare Scheme has had more than 32,000 bookings since the initiative was introduced and I’m pleased it will now run through to 2021.
“We’ve also stepped in to extend regulated rural air routes to provide surety for regional Queensland, while allowing the department to undertake planning activities for the upcoming procurement of the future regional air service contracts.
Mr Bailey said the Palaszczuk Government’s previous budgets created the pipeline of major infrastructure projects that today employ thousands of Queenslanders.
“Across the outback, people are turning up to work on-site today because the Palaszczuk Government backed these projects. This year’s QTRIP outlines the future projects we believe need to be prioritised for Queenslanders.
“The Palaszczuk Government will continue to work with the Federal Government, local governments and the private sector to ensure this pipeline of investment continues to support Queensland communities and create local jobs.”