Community & Business

3 April, 2022

Road is critical for future development

THE need for a more reliable road transport access between Cairns and Mareeba is not just a major issue for those two communities, but one of significant importance to Far North Queensland as a whole.


Cape York, northern Gulf of Carpentaria and Atherton Tableland communities all have a vested interest in the daily performance and availability of the Kuranda Range Road, in terms of their supply chains and future growth opportunities. 

As such, all Far North Queenslanders are entitled to be angry and appalled by the gross inadequacy of the so-called ‘Cairns to Northern Tablelands Access Strategy’, released by the Department of Transport and Main Roads last month. 

Not since the Palaszczuk Government torpedoed the terms of reference for the EIS to expand the Port of Cairns in 2015, has Labor treated the future development of Far North Queensland with such unforgiveable disregard. 

To spend $1.6 million of taxpayers’ money, only to release a report suggesting nothing need be done for 30 years, clearly demonstrates the Palaszczuk Government has nothing but contempt for the people of Far North Queensland. 

If this problem existed in Brisbane, would they really be told to wait 30 years? 

This glossy brochure, overloaded with pretty photos and short on actual content, is not a serious contribution to resolving this major logistical problem confronting Far North Queensland. Labor’s Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, should be embarrassed. 

Minister Bailey should also be called out for his staggering hypocrisy – releasing a report denying action is required for 30 years one day, but announcing he’ll write to the Federal Government demanding 80 per cent of the funding the next. 

Labor’s indolent local MP’s (Crawford, Healy, Lui and Pitt) should be derided for remaining silent while another key decision concerning the future of Far North Queensland is kicked into the long grass. 

Nature abhors a vacuum. In the absence of a sensible contribution from the Palaszczuk Government and indeed since the release of its “Strategy”, it seems everyone with a map and an imagination has proposed an “alternative route” over the Kuranda Range. 

I don’t claim to be better with a map than any of these erstwhile proponents and while others have used less polite words than ‘imagination’ to describe Bob Katter’s “Bridle Track”, the fact is all of these proposals are premature until you can move Labor’s 30 year timeframe. 

Tucked away on page 56 of the “Strategy”, is the concession that while a new road link should be progressed, more work needs to be done on the most appropriate alignment. While accurate, was this staggeringly obvious observation really worth $1.6 million? 

The first question is – given the unsatisfactory scenario of diverting existing traffic onto the Rex, the Gillies and the Palmerston during construction, does anyone seriously think an upgrade of the current Kuranda Range Road alignment can occur under traffic? 

If not, we can assume an alternative route is required and get on with a proper, meritbased engineering assessment. This is a critical issue for the future development of Far North Queensland. 

  • Andrew Cripps is a former Queensland LNP Shadow Minister for Northern Development and a current LNP Senate candidate.


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