Although it believes it has a well-reasoned argument for its road funding proposal, the Inland Queensland Roads Action Plan working group is keen to enlist people power as the federal election campaign begins.
Launched in Townsville in February, the group that encompasses 33 of Queensland’s local government areas has received an overwhelmingly positive response for its plan that advocates an average $277m spending per annum across the outback road network, over an 18-year time frame.
The group’s secretary, Glenys Schuntner recently told an economic forum in Charleville they had undertaken a lot of advocacy with state and federal governments but to get government buy-in, people power will be needed.
“We are talking to groups such as caravanners and Growcom – all sorts of road users see the benefit of what we’re advocating,” she said.
Seats such as Capricornia, Kennedy and Flynn would be particularly targeted as IQ-RAP aimed to gain political approval for its plan to increase the quality and accessibility of Queensland’s road network with the maximisation of the state’s economic prosperity at its forefront.
She said the plan, undertaken independently of the state Department of Transport’s heavy vehicle action plan, differed to it in being as much about economic value and safety as road traffic.
“Our challenge is that most of the traffic is on the coastal strip so most of the money goes there, but our plan can take heavy vehicles off those roads and help with congestion.”
“We talk about creating new opportunities, not just throwing money at problems.”
We talk about creating new opportunities, not just throwing money at problems.
Rather than “big, lumpy projects” that need the resources of outside contractors to be done, the IQ-RAP has outlined ways of achieving the 3000km, 300-bridge network upgrade they say is needed in a way that can be done by councils with their own workforces.
Ms Schuntner said the plan aligned with the State Infrastructure Plan, in that it also identified productivity as its number one challenge, and used a big-picture budgeting approach rather than in “silos”.
“We are talking the language of what they released,” she said.
Despite this, Ms Schuntner said it was a challenge to get governments to adopt something different to current models, using broader criteria.
“Governments are not used to writing cheques for 18 years, but we’d like both state and federal governments to adopt this as a model of how they could achieve it.
“The more people who say this is a good idea, the more likely it is.
“For anything to get funding these days, you’ve got to have people power, not just a rational economic argument.”