Hughie Williams (left) and John Carlson at the Matilda service station.
Hughie Williams (left) and John Carlson at the Matilda service station. Renee Pilcher

Matilda mascot a distraction: TWU

MATILDA the Commonwealth Games kangaroo should be banned from Gympie’s part of the Bruce Highway, according to one of the giant kangaroo’s biggest and longest-standing supporters.

Ex-Commonwealth Games wrestling champion and Transport Workers Union secretary Hughie Williams was one of 10 members of the Commonwealth Games board who had some of the best seats when Matilda was wheeled out to wink at an international audience and win millions of fans.

But while we all welcomed the exciting distraction of the Games, which later led to Expo and helped make Brisbane the worldly city that it is today, Mr Williams says that is not the kind of distraction drivers need as they approach one of the most dangerous highway intersections in Australia.

1982 was a busy time for Mr Williams, who was also a senior vice- president of the Labor Party at the time.

Now Mr Williams is promising to pull all those old ALP strings as he throws the TWU’s considerable transport industry weight behind a community driven campaign to fix the Matilda intersection.

As he returned to the site yesterday (after announcing his support at an on-site media conference last week), Mr Williams was joined by nearby resident John Carlson, whose family has had to bear the loss of one of its own this year at the intersection.

“I just hope Hughie and the Transport Workers Union can get things changed,” Mr Carlson said.

“I really hope they can get something done, because one life is too many and there’ve been a few.

“If they say they don’t have the money, I’d like to ask them to think about how much one life costs in money alone, including property damage.”

He said the authorities should also look at how much a near-fatal accident costs in treating and rehabilitating or supporting severely injured or disabled road trauma victims.

“The trouble is, when they upgrade the current section of the highway, they are going to take the dangers of high speed traffic to the south and put those dangers further north, like here,” he said.

Mr Williams said truck drivers and other regular users of the Matilda stretch of the Bruce Highway are deeply concerned to see something done urgently.

He joined Mr Carlson at the base which has been constructed to take the games icon.

“We won’t rest until something is done,” Mr Williams promised Mr Carlson yesterday.

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