Lucrative NQ roads stuck in a rut while $7BN rail “Sinkhole” forges on

Mar 27, 2023

Critical Gulf roads that support hundreds of millions of dollars annually are now unusable most of the year as Government coffers fill Brisbane’s $7.1 billion Cross River Rail “sinkhole” ahead of its opening in 2025.

Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said Queensland’s cattle and mining industries damaged their vehicles and lost efficiency on poorly-maintained roads despite moving millions of dollars along the routes each year.

He said Dunbar Road between Normanton and Kowanyama – part of the Burke Development Road – was unsealed and lower than the surrounding country, becoming unusable for approximately six months of the year after even a small rain event, let alone the recent substantial floods.

“When the rain funnels onto Dunbar Road and hits the fine Gulf Savannah dust, the road becomes a mess and creek crossings rise (where it’s not unusual to see the occasional croc hanging around); it’s not until you near Normanton that the road is sealed and becomes wider and smoother,” Mr Katter said.

“This route is essential to our regional industries and having it out of action for half the year is a disgrace when repairs would account for only a fraction of the cost of the Cross River Rail, which will only benefit Brisbane commuters.”

He added the Flinders Highway was also in poor condition despite accommodating cattle and mining industries, which accounted for $400 million in royalties alone each year.

“Almost half a billion dollars comes along this route annually and pumps into the Government’s coffers and they’re spending $7 billion on a rail tunnel that’s going to help people in Brisbane get to work ten minutes earlier,” he said.

The Government’s refusal to stump up the money to make basic repairs to vital rural roads and highways that helped fund major Brisbane projects and extravagances was nonsensical.

“I’m not sure why that’s a priority and why fixing up these roads isn’t,” Mr Katter said.

“You can see why we get a little bit angry out here that we make all this money but you can’t even fix the basic roads that help us make the money to pay for all your luxuries in Brisbane.”

Mr Katter made the comments following a Courier Mail article last month revealing that the initial dozens of Cross River Rail trains wouldn’t become available until a year after the anticipated opening date, sparking assurances from the Government that the delay wouldn’t affect the 2025 start.