Deputy Speaker and Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien (left) is at loggerheads with party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, announcing he will not endorse proposed upgrades to the Bruce Highway at Tiaro. (AAP Image/Bruce Long)
Deputy Speaker and Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien (left) is at loggerheads with party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, announcing he will not endorse proposed upgrades to the Bruce Highway at Tiaro. (AAP Image/Bruce Long)

‘I will not say those words’: O’Brien slams Deputy PM

WIDE Bay MP Llew O’Brien has slammed a Federal Government proposal for a two lane Bruce Highway bypass through Tiaro.

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Mr O’Brien released a statement last night refusing to endorse the proposal, also taking aim at Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey.

He posted an image of the proposed media release set to endorse the Tiaro proposal, announcing he would be opposing the idea and continuing his “fight to improve road safety”.

Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.
Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.

“I was supplied with the words in this image to endorse the proposed two lane Tiaro bypass.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack, I just will not say those words,” Mr O’Brien said.

“You see 20 years ago I was one of the first responders to what ended up being a triple fatality on the Cooroy bypass. When I arrived at the scene with my partner, it was obvious that two of the people had died instantly from catastrophic injuries and the third was expiring very fast. The head-on collision happened on a stretch of road that was relatively straight, with plenty of run-off on the road edges and nothing to obstruct a drivers vision.

“Back then it was a fairly new bypass. To the average motorist it looked like a great piece of highway, to me it looked like what it was; a straight piece of bitumen that saw heavy motor vehicles approaching each other at a closing speed of 200 km/h, only to miss each other by feet, tens of thousands of times a day.

FEDERAL FEUD: Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack forced a united front at the official opining of Sunshine Beach Surf Lifesaving Club back in February. Photo: Caitlin Zerafa
FEDERAL FEUD: Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack forced a united front at the official opining of Sunshine Beach Surf Lifesaving Club back in February. Photo: Caitlin Zerafa

“A road by its appearance gave people (such) a false sense of … confidence that it was a death trap. One lane north and one lane south with no dividing barrier.

“That section of highway is now dual lanes both north and south with a concrete dividing barrier, and as far as I’m aware fatality free since its upgrade.

“80km north and 20 years on from that terrible night when lives were cut short and families destroyed, the government is announcing the construction of a brand-new 8km greenfield piece of Bruce Highway to bypass the beautiful little town of Tiaro.

Keith Pitt, Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Shelley Strachan and Llew O'Brien celebrate $800 million funding for Section D.
Keith Pitt, Deputy PM Michael McCormack, Shelley Strachan and Llew O'Brien celebrate $800 million funding for Section D.

“You’ll understand my dismay and disappointment at the plan to build a road much the same as that killer stretch of highway that bypassed Cooroy all those years ago.

“One lane north and one lane south with no dividing barrier.

The proposed press release speaking in favour of the Tiaro bypass.
The proposed press release speaking in favour of the Tiaro bypass.

“So, Minister Bailey and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, I won’t call this current proposal a safety upgrade. I will call it what it is because that’s what the people of Wide Bay need me to do. I didn’t do my apprenticeship in the tragedy of life, like so many other emergency service workers, just to go with the flow and recite the political spin when its not true.

“What I will be doing is fighting to get this road upgraded to the standard we see on the Cooroy to Curra upgraded section of Bruce Highway. A minimum of four lanes with a dividing barrier. The standard that any new section of our National Highway should be built to, especially when it’s only 200km from Brisbane in 2020.

Part of Mr O'Brien's statement slamming the Tiaro bypass proposal.
Part of Mr O'Brien's statement slamming the Tiaro bypass proposal.

“And whilst I might not succeed in getting the necessary upgrade to this plan that I believe will save lives, I will be able to say I did the right thing and fought my hardest for the road users and families of Wide Bay and Queensland.

“So whilst they might cut me out of the joint press release, they are seriously underestimating my motivation if they think they’ll cut me out of the fight to improve road safety.”

Gympie Times


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