Shayne Neumann MP
Federal Member for Blair

Australian Labor
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Ipswich Motorway

03/03/2016

Over the last decade, 20 per cent of Australia's economic and employment growth has occurred in South-East Queensland.

One in seven Australians now live in the region, and by 2031 it will be one in six.

Ipswich and the Somerset region in the Blair electorate are major contributors to the region's growth and are well placed to benefit from it.

But challenges accompany these opportunities, including the pressure this growth places on the road network.

Any conversation about road infrastructure affecting Blair must include the Ipswich Motorway.

The motorway is an essential link in the region's road network. It is vital for local jobs and economic growth, and the necessary upgrade of the motorway to meet increasing demand is fundamental to the region's prosperity.

Indeed, it is one of the projects supported by the South-East Queensland Council of Mayors, and I commend them for their advocacy.

However, not everyone shares that opinion.

Historically, for example, the coalition has not shown much interest in the Ipswich Motorway.

It took a Labor government to design, build and deliver the upgrade from Dinmore to Darra, funding at a cost of $2.8 billion and supporting 10,000 jobs during construction.

The coalition opposed the upgrade at every step and at every election except for the last, in 2013.

Today, the final section of the upgrade, from Darra to Rocklea remains uncompleted.

That section lies outside of the Blair electorate but is crucial for the people of Ipswich and the Somerset region.

In the May 2013 budget, the former Labor government committed $279 million to kick-start this upgrade. The Coalition broke form, promising to match and even fast-track Labor's funding in the days before the election.

However, in the 2½ years since it was elected, the coalition government has done nothing about Ipswich Motorway, when indeed for much of that time Campbell Newman and the LNP ruled in office from George Street in Brisbane.

The fate of the $279 million it promised for the upgrade of the final section was revealed by Mark Bailey, the Queensland Minister for Main Roads, in his letter to The Queensland Times on 22 February 2016.

Minister Bailey stated that the previous Deputy Prime Minister and minister for infrastructure, Warren Truss, had written to him in July 2015 to inform him:

'I have directed my department to remove funding for the project from the Queensland program'.

This is a devastating blow to the people of Blair.

Infrastructure Australia wants this upgrade dealt with in the next five years as a priority for the people of the region.

I am writing to the new Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Darren Chester, to seek a meeting with him about what is going to happen in terms of the government's priorities and to ask him to put the $279 million back on the table, to listen to the voice of Infrastructure Australia, who want this upgrade undertaken, and also to find out what is happening with the intersection of the Cunningham Highway and Amberley intersection, so vital for the redevelopment of the RAAF base at Amberley, particularly with the white paper being announced last week.