HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
It is an honour to be able to speak on behalf of the people of Blair this evening.
This is my fourth term, and I will not take the people of Ipswich and the Somerset region for granted - I never have and I never will.
I was elected in 2007 on a platform of fixing the Ipswich Motorway after years and years of inactivity, inertia and idleness by the Howard coalition government in relation to the motorway.
The then federal Labor government fixed the Ipswich Motorway from Dinmore to Darra - 100,000 vehicles a day travel between Ipswich and Brisbane.
This has been a blessing for the people of the region and good for economic growth and development.
But the coalition government under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the member for Warringah, and the current Prime Minister, the member for Wentworth, have failed to fix the last section of the Ipswich Motorway - that is, the section from Darra to Rocklea.
They promised to do so in the 2013 election, with the same candidate who ran against me at the 2016 election.
We made a fairly early commitment that we would do it, in fact, we put money into kick-starting the Ipswich motorway from Darra to Rocklea in our last budget in May 2013.
Nothing was done for three years by the Coalition Government.
Just before the 2016 election, after Labor had re-affirmed its commitment, the Coalition Government under the current Prime Minister finally said, 'We might do this.'
Why is this important? It is important because 85,000 vehicles, including 12,000 trucks, go through that section every day.
It is not in my electorate. It is actually mostly in the electorate of the member for Moreton, with a little bit in the electorate of the member for Oxley.
Many of those 85,000 vehicles are being driven by people from or carry passengers from the electorate of Blair.
It is critical for the economic development of the whole region.
The Government say that they will do it, and we have to take them on their word.
The Palaszczuk Labor Government deserves a lot of credit because it has agreed on a fifty-fifty split.
The construction of this section of the Ipswich Motorway I am told will start in early 2017 and there will be 470 jobs created as a result.
It will be a safer, quicker journey for motorists and it will improve national and local freight movements.
I want to make it clear that the government had better do what it said it would or the people in the western corridor will hold them to account for that.
Blair also boasts the RAAF base at Amberley. It is home to 5,500 defence personnel and a $1 billion upgrade.
It supports a burgeoning aerospace industry.
Down the road a few kilometres is the Willowbank motorsport precinct, including the Queensland Raceway and the Willowbank Raceway.
Beyond that is the Mount Walker quarry development, which was approved by the Scenic Rim Regional Council earlier this year.
Sadly, in this growth area the Cunningham Highway between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek at Willowbank is a notorious blackspot.
Earlier this month five people were injured in a horrific crash between a car and a truck at the Willowbank Interchange and the highway was shut for three hours.
Chad Hayes is a tow truck driver from Willowbank and a member of the Willowbank Action Group. If you want to get someone agitated, talk about the Willowbank Interchange to the Willowbank Action Group.
Following the accident, Chad told the publication Big Rigs that 'using the intersection was like playing B-double roulette'.
The Mount Walker quarry is expected to add a further 70 to 80 B-doubles a day along this stretch of road.
Last year The Queensland Times referred to it as Ipswich's 'highway to hell'. It is the Ipswich region's No. 1 crash zone.
It is used by 17,000 vehicles a day, including 2,500 heavy vehicles, and experiences heavy congestion at the turn-off from the highway to the RAAF base at Amberley.
Locals know that it is a problem between 5 am and 7 am and in the evening after work.
The Queensland Government has released a concept plan and in addition to that has developed a business case for an upgrade costing $345 million.
It has been submitted as a priority, shovel-ready project to Infrastructure Australia, seeking the usual 80-20 federal-state split.
I call on the Turnbull coalition government to fund this, not to be a roadblock as they have on the Ipswich Motorway but to support the region and to support the RAAF base at Amberley in the upgrade.
The Nationals and the Liberals in this place do not agitate for better roads in the regions - they simply do not.
I call on the Government to do the right thing - to save lives, to improve safety and to get the regions moving, particularly the Ipswich region around Willowbank.