Local contractors raring to repair Palmerston Hwy following KAP spotlight on damage

Dec 21, 2023

Member for Hill Shane Knuth and Kennedy MP Bob Katter have been advocating to both levels of Government on the importance of a quick permanent fix for the Palmerston Highway.

Mr Knuth said he and Mr Katter were able to address the community’s concerns with both levels of government this week.

“I have spoken to the new State Minister for Transport and Main Roads Bart Mellish and Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt about the importance of the Palmerston Highway as it is the major freight route for the food bowl of Far North Queensland,” Mr Knuth said.

“We cannot rely on the the Kuranda Range as it shut at least once a week for about four hours.”

Mr Knuth said he worked for Queensland Rail for 20 years before becoming a Queensland MP.

“I have dealt with multiple huge washouts that were repaired in a number of days,” Mr Knuth said.

“We need the back-to-basics methods, which was about bringing in the excavators, flood rock, ballast and material to build a new strong foundation. 

“We need to clear out the old foundation, get the new stuff in and get this major freight route opened as soon as possible.

“This should take weeks, not months.”

Mr Knuth said there were local contractors that were well versed in what is required to fix the Palmerston and can mobilise immediately, through Christmas.

Mr Knuth said he was advised by Transport and Main Roads that they understand the criticality of the freight industry in providing goods and services to the community and have been working closely with the freight industry to determine and provide alternate heavy vehicle routes for B-doubles and Type 1 Road Trains.

They said “Unfortunately, due to some intersection configurations and bridges the Type 1 Road Train route through the Tablelands cannot be extended.”

Kennedy MP Bob Katter said his office had received justified concerns from transport operators and producers about the extended closure of the major freight route.

“They have every right to be worried, this is the food bowl of our region, which has been cut off the from coast, from the markets, from the supermarket shelves of Australians,” Mr Katter said.

“Yes we want the Palmerston Hwy repaired urgently, as Shane Knuth explained, but we’re in Far North Queensland; you can’t tell me this won’t happen again. We seriously cannot afford to continue having all three of our highways connecting the Tablelands to the coast cut off every time there’s rain – all it takes is one tree.

“If this was Brisbane, and major economic wealth generating roads were impacted there – would they just sit around? 

“Brisbane has 36km of tunnels, North Queensland has none. We need the Bridle Track Tunnel now – connecting Mareeba to southern Cairns with a travel time of less than 30 minutes. That’s where our producers, both agriculture and minerals, should be sending their heavy freight. Not down our beautiful rainforest drives which close every week.”