Highway delay stymies future
GYMPIE’S economy was being stymied by overly rigid State Government policies and an inadequate highway link to South-East Queensland markets and ports, Gympie Regional councillors said this week.
Councillors expressed ongoing frustration with what was described as the failure of the so-called “whole-of-government” approach to growth planning.
Commenting on a letter from Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, councillors said there was only the appearance of inter-departmental co-operation when it came to cutting the red tape on land use plans for the region.
Mr Hinchliffe’s letter was a response to council concerns about the failure of a major industrial land project, because of multi-million-dollar highway access requirements imposed by the Department of Transport and Main Roads, despite the department’s apparent support at a recent whole-of-government land use planning workshop.
Mr Hinchliffe said the involvement of other departments in land strategy discussions did not “relieve DTMR of its responsibilities under the Sustainable Planning Act”.
“They can agree with the proposal, but when the application goes in another officer of the same department puts conditions on it which stymie it,” Cr Graham Engeman said.
Planning director Michael Hartley told the meeting the department was “between a rock and a hard place.
“Given the capacity of the existing highway, they can ill afford to increase traffic.
“The reality is that the highway needs upgrading and they don’t have the money to do it,” he said.
Cr Larry Friske said it was “no good flogging Main Roads. It’s not Main Roads’ fault”.
“They have a rule book, exactly the same as council has a rule book, and they can’t change it,” he said.
“You need to get Mr Hinchliffe and his government to change the rules.”
Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said: “The whole-of-government approach failed 10 years ago on this.
“The double-laning of the Bruce Highway to Gympie should be completed today.
“The problem is not going to be addressed (until that happens),” he said.
“There’s been a resource boom and the cost of everything involved has gone up. It’s the failure of the government 10 years ago to see this problem.”