Bruce takes centre stage in Canberra
A NUMBER of federal lower house Queensland MPs from both sides of the chamber have squared off over Bruce Hwy funding in Canberra.
A motion on Queensland infrastructure projects, moved by Moreton MP Graham Perrett on the eve of the Queensland budget, generated lively debate with the plight of the Bruce Hwy taking centre stage.
Mr Perrett used his speech to outline the money federal Labor was spending on Queensland roads, including a number of Bruce Hwy projects.
He claimed the Bruce Hwy "could not have been more neglected" by the Coalition under former prime minister John Howard.
"Since coming to power Labor has more than doubled federal annual infrastructure spending from $143 to $314 per Queenslander," Mr Perrett told the Parliament.
He said the Gillard government had committed $2.8 billion to fixing the Bruce Hwy over the next seven years.
This, and a number of Mr Perrett's claims, were challenged by a group of angry Coalition Queensland MPs whose seats are affected by the Bruce Hwy.
The Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said just one of the four Bruce Hwy projects highlighted by Mr Perrett had been completed.
"The Member for Moreton should not read the Labor Party rhetoric but go out and have a look at the Bruce Hwy," Mr Neville said.
Mr Neville also spoke about the trip he and five other Coalition MPs took earlier in the year when they drove the more than 1600km stretch of the Bruce Hwy, from Brisbane to Cairns.
He said the trip revealed that fixing the Cooroy-to-Curra section of the highway near Gympie was a priority.
"It is so bad there - almost exactly on these sites, from 14km north of Gympie to Gympie and then for 24km south of Gympie - that the speed limit has had to be reduced to 90kmh," Mr Neville said.
"That is a disgrace on a national highway."
Mr Neville said the results of a questionnaire distributed to people during the "outreach" trip would be available soon and would "put a whole new perspective on what has to happen on the Bruce Hwy".
Central Queensland MP George Christensen also spoke about his experiences on the marathon journey.
The member for Dawson said the drive gave him and his Coalition colleagues the chance to speak with mayors, ambulance and police officers, RACQ personnel , truckies and other road users.
"We had plenty to talk about because there are plenty of problems on the Bruce Hwy," Mr Christensen said.
"We saw the congestion, the lack of overtaking lanes, massive potholes, dangerous intersections, flood-prone areas ... we confronted cattle on the road."
Labor MPs Shayne Neumann and Bernie Ripoll used the debate to spruik the government's investment in Queensland roads, in particular the Ipswich Mwy.
Mr Ripoll, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer and Member for Oxley, said even Mr Christensen and Mr Neville would agree the motorway was a "beautiful piece of road".
This drew rowdy interjections from both MPs, prompting Mr Ripoll to say the government would be "making its way up north" to fix roads, work he claimed should have been done by the Howard government.
He said people in regional Queensland had suffered because of the Coalition's obsession with building surpluses.
"We will come and build roads for you. We actually agree that you have to work right across Queensland and right across Australia," Mr Ripoll said.
"They love to collect money, put it in the bank and sit on it, but it is too bad that they were not generous enough to spend it on you."
Mr Neumann said the Federal Government had spent $8.7 billion on Queensland roads.
He also accused Coalition MPs of repeatedly opposing these spending measures, including the $1.76 billion Dinmore-to-Goodna section of the Ipswich Mwy.