A further $400 million has been unlocked by the Federal Government to upgrade the Inland Freight Route.
Billed as the ‘Second Bruce Highway’, the 1,184-kilometre north-south route from Charters Towers in North Queensland to Mungindi on the New South Wales border is a nationally significant freight route.
As a resources and agricultural powerhouse, Queensland is expected to benefit greatly from a better Inland Freight Route and in doing so will unlock more cotton, grain, cattle, fresh produce, coal, oil, gas and other valuable commodities for export.
“Our investment through the 2022-23 Budget builds on the $400 million committed in last year’s Budget, taking our total investment in the Inland Freight Route to $800 million through to 2030-31,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
“This will deliver the upgrades needed to move trucks off the Bruce Highway and support the safe and efficient flow of goods and commodities from regional businesses to supermarkets and ports,” he said in a statement.
“As a reliable alternative to the Bruce Highway during wet weather events, the Inland Freight Route also ensures regional towns and communities can continue to receive essential goods and services.”
The Government’s investment, according to the announcement, will help deliver progressive upgrades, including realignments, overtaking lanes, flood resilience and drainage works, pavement widening and safety treatments.
These works will create more than 2,000 jobs, delivering an economic boost across Queensland, both now and into the future.
Joyce, who also serves as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said the Government is delivering the projects that will make Australia’s economy stronger.
“Improving key freight routes will drive the growth of regional industries that produce wealth, like our mining and agriculture sectors,” he said.
“To become as strong as possible as quickly as possible, we must sell more of the products that make our country wealthy and strong.
“Slashing travel times for trucks mean the valuable commodities they carry can reach our ports more quickly and we get paid sooner.
“That is how our nation becomes as strong as possible as quickly as possible.”
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said improving freight efficiency and productivity would drive growth for Queensland’s agriculture producers.
“This is a $400 million investment in the people of regional and rural Queensland to open up a wider corridor for their commercial benefit,” Minister Littleproud said.
“It is about growing the economic pie and making sure the men and women on the land get a good sized slice of that pie.”
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said upgrading the Inland Freight Route would be a game-changer for regional and rural areas in Queensland.
“This additional investment to upgrade the Inland Freight Route ensures regional and rural areas in Queensland continue to get goods and services into their towns,” said Landry.
“Only the Coalition Government understands that an investment in our freight industry is an investment in Australia’s economy.”
Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said the Inland Freight Route provides an important link to ports, boosting business for exporting industries.
“These upgrades will also better link Central Queensland to the southern states, ensuring the economic impact of the Inland Freight Route is felt far and wide,” O’Dowd said.
Special Envoy for Northern Australia and Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald said regional Queensland would be a big winner from the extra funding.
“The Coalition Government understands that regional areas are counting on a major economic boost by being able to get produce to markets more quickly, in greater volume and in better condition, especially when other routes are affected by flooding,” she said.
Since 2013, the Coalition Government has invested over $31.8 billion in 307 major projects across Queensland. This includes over $10 billion for priority upgrades to the Bruce Highway.