Beers bridges the gap between parties
BARRING the unexpected election of a minor party candidate, the John Peterson Bridge over the Boyne River on Mundubbera-Durong Rd looks certain to be replaced, after Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers committed to funding the project.
Councillor Faye Whelan said she was "absolutely elated” at the commitment from both major parties.
"We got the news late last night and I don't think I slept at all,” Cr Whelan said.
"After all the hard work over many years, I think it's going to be a reality.
"We are 95 per cent across the line.
"May the best man win, it's up to voters to decide now.”
Cr Whelan said the benefits of the project would be threefold: jobs during the construction phase, a safer journey for users of the road, and an economic boost for North Burnett produce and crops.
She gave the example of blueberries, which bruise easily, having a higher chance of arriving at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport unscathed after the upgrade.
She said the John Peterson Bridge was the last remaining weak link in the North Burnett section of the Mundubbera Durong Rd but there were "nasty, narrow sections” of the road as it ran through the South Burnett, and the Mundubbera to Jandowae Roads Working Group would continue lobbying for funding there.
Roads Working Group chairwoman Georgie Somerset said the bipartisan commitment "demonstrates how vital it is to the region.”
""A safe, efficient north-south route is of the utmost importance in the inland Burnett with a range of sectors, including agriculture and resources, depending on it for the movement of products and raw materials,” Mrs Somerset said.
Announcing the news on Facebook, Mayor Rachel Chambers said it was "fabulous” news.
"We now have bipartisan support for this essential piece of linking infrastructure.”
The Queensland Government designed and costed a new bridge and road alignment last year, concluding it would cost $20 million at today's prices, rising to $23.8 million by 2022-23.
Labor's commitment, at $24 million, covers this later cost.
Cr Chambers said there was a long list of organisations to thank for advocating tirelessly for the project, including the Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation, the Mundubbera to Jandowae Roads Working Group, South Burnett Regional Council, Western Downs Regional Council, and the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils.
"The push for this piece of infrastructure has been ongoing and long-standing,” Cr Chambers said.
Mr Beers said the funding announcement "shows just how serious we are” about delivering regional services and infrastructure.
"This bridge upgrade has been desperately needed by the community for a long time, and I'm proud that a new Labor Government will get working straight away to deliver this project,” Mr Beers said.
"We've not only matched the LNP's commitment, we've invested an extra $4 million to make sure we get this project done right.
"This announcement is credit to the councillors and locals who have fought so hard for this project, and I'm pleased to be able to have supported their good work by delivering this funding.”
Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd panned the announcement on Facebook.
"Labor playing catchup again,” Mr O'Dowd said.
"But by the looks of it, their vague promise of funding for the John Peterson Bridge will be on the never-never, possibly not until 2022.
"A re-elected Liberal Nationals government will have its funding ready to go for the project straight away.
"That's what you can achieve with strong economic management.”