Industry News

Inland Freight Route gets green light in federal budget

Queensland trucking is celebrating one of its biggest wins with news that the federal government is committing $720 million in this year’s budget to help build the Inland Freight Route (IFR).

The future of the 1185km highway between Mungindi and Charters Towers, also known as the Second Bruce, had been in limbo as infrastructure minister Catherine King reviewed a wide range of projects, 50 of which were subsequently axed.

The Albanese government is also sticking with the original 80:20 investment split with the state government, rather than the 50:50 model King put in place following the probe last year to stem $33 billion in cost blowouts and delays on infrastructure projects approved by the previous government.

“We’re thrilled to see that [the IFR has been approved] – it’s the culmination of four years of pretty solid work,” said Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon.

Mahon said federal investment funds are available now in the project investment schedule and will roll out over the next six years, along with the state’s commitment of $200 million.

To trigger the first tranche, all the state needs to do is submit its project plan, said Mahon.

“The advice I’m getting is that those works will be underway in the next several months.

“The state has already committed $103 million to that program of works. The design work, all the project parameters have all been completed over the last few years, so they’re ready to go.”

Image: Queensland Government

Mahon understands the biggest chunk of the initial budget-spend will be fixing the roughness on the Belyando, in the southern half of the road between Clermont and Charters Towers.

After that, Mahon understands some turnouts, gradients and bridge work will be the next priorities.

“So that basically moves us to be able to start concentrating on access on the Warrego, and a more appropriate treatment for Bremer River.

“The Cunningham’s Gap project is coming along quite well, so what we’re seeing forming now is a genuine alternative for big multi-combinations.

“We still have the challenge of bringing that sort of efficiency into Brisbane, because at the moment it’s held up in Gatton.

“But as that Inland Freight Route is further progressed, it’s giving us a genuine alternative for big multi-combinations to head up into the highly productive northern provinces of northern Queensland, in particular.”

Mahon said it also gives industry added flood immunity during the major weather events that have shut down large sections of the Bruce in recent years.

“The thing we’re most pleased about is starting to really form a genuine road freight network in this state.

“I also took note that at this stage, there’s no particular announcements about Inland Rail.

“So, I think that further reinforces how important that road connection’s going to need to be from Toowoomba into Brisbane and being able to access the port, the advanced manufacturing and a whole variety of other important facilities along that corridor from Rocklea through to Plainland.

“It’s becoming an ever more critical logistics hub, along with the ever-increasing importance of Toowooomba.

“You put all those elements together, being progressive with this investment [in the IFR] is particularly pleasing news.

“Not only that, it’s such a great boost for Queensland regions as well.”

Mahon is now hopeful that the $400 million of federal funds for sealing 457km of the Queensland Beef Corridor will also be moved back into the government’s investment schedule.

In March this year, the state government announced $500 million investment in upgrades to priority road corridors to support Queensland’s beef industry.

But the federal government pushed back from a planned start date of 2025/26 to 2027/28.

“What we’re expecting, and hoping, is that money will be brought forward, the same as the IFR has been so it’s the investment schedule for the next five to six years.”


The post Inland Freight Route gets green light in federal budget appeared first on Big Rigs.

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