Regional Qlders dice with death, but do our pollies care?
REGIONAL Queenslanders are dying on the road at a higher rate than their city counterparts - but the Queensland Government doesn't appear to want to talk about it.
Australian Regional Media, the publisher of Fraser Coast Chronicle and 11 other daily papers across Queensland and northern New South Wales, asked Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's government to partner with it on an awareness campaign over Christmas, when many people are on the road.
But already facing claims it has put the state economy in neutral, neither Ms Palaszczuk or until recently the one Cabinet minister from our regions, Rockhampton's Bill Byrne, bothered to reply to the offer.
ARM chief executive Neil Monaghan said in his letter to the Premier and Mr Byrne that the fatality rate in Central Queensland alone was 54.5% up year on year.
Despite 75% of Queensland's population living outside of Brisbane, Mr Monaghan was worried safety messages weren't getting out to his hundreds of thousands of readers.
''Something needs to be done,'' Mr Monaghan, who employs hundreds of people in regional Queensland, implored in his letter.
Roads Minister Mark Bailey did ring to acknowledge the contact, but nothing concrete materialised. Neither the Premier or Mr Byrne replied more than a month later.
Mr Monaghan said that simply hardened his suspicions that the interests of regional Queenslanders were not being well looked after.
''Are these guys asleep at the wheel while dozens of regional Queenslanders die in their vehicles?
''It beggars belief the Member for Rockhampton would not even engage with the biggest media organisation in his patch.''
Contacted yesterday, Mr Byrne said the emails from ARM had not been passed to him and he was happy to be consulted in the New Year. He said he would always advocate for regional Queensland projects.
A spokesman for his office also pointed out the fatalities, though up this year, had been trending down in previous years.
The Premier's office said there had been delays in getting a response out, but it was communicating road safety messages through online assets to young drivers, and it was open to a partnership with ARM at Easter next year.
A spokesman for the Road Safety Minister said nearly $4.5 million was spent on road safety advertising last financial year and that figure would be exceeded this year.
However, he could not confirm how much of that spend was made in regional Queensland, where the majority are dying.
''Our road safety campaigns incorporate a range of communication and engagement activities that reflect developments in communication and information technology and an increasing focus on community involvement,'' a statement said.
''Many of these activities are not captured in the advertising spend, but are part of the more than $500 million for road safety projects we're delivering across the state over the next two years.''
The government sponsored a youth innovation challenge, road safety week, Fatality Free Friday and just this week the Palaszczuk Government announced an additional $102.2 million over four years for road safety programs.