Bruce McIver and the Bruce Highway

Tonight I want to talk about two Bruces— one briefly and one in more detail. The first is Bruce McIver, the President of the Liberal-National Party, who announced this week that he was stepping down as our president, and his last state executive meeting will be in Longreach on 25 September. On behalf of LNP senators I thank Bruce for his many years of work for our great party, and at a later time I will say more about his work for the cause of freedom and liberty in Queensland.

Tonight I want to talk about the Bruce Highway—a very important road in Queensland. If anything, the Bruce Highway sums up Queensland—1,700 kilometres in length from Cairns to Brisbane.

Senator Polley interjecting—

Senator McGRATH: It is interesting that Labor senators opposite are interjecting—they do not understand the importance of the Bruce Highway to Queensland. It supports 58 per cent of the state's population and tens of thousands of jobs, especially in regional Queensland. Based on the interjections opposite, the Liberal-National Party is the only party in Queensland that supports the Bruce Highway. I am very proud of this coalition government's commitment of $6.7 billion to improve safety, capacity and flooding risks along the stretch from Cairns to Brisbane.

It is time to do a bit of a report card on the Bruce Highway. I will quickly run through the Boost the Bruce campaign. Up in Leichhardt we have Warren Entsch doing fantastic work, especially along the southern growth corridor to Edmonton. More work needs to happen there, but that is for future budgets. In Kennedy we have a fantastic candidate, Noeline Ikin, who won that seat last time on primary votes but Labor preferenced Bob Katter over the line. She is working hard for overtaking lanes and flood proofing of the Bruce Highway south of Ingham. In Herbert we have Ewen Jones who is working with George Christensen, whose seat of Dawson is up there, to duplicate the Bruce Highway between Vantassel Street and Cluden Drive. Outside of Townsville, the coalition has committed $412 million to the long-awaited Haughton River bridge project. This project will see construction of a higher-level bridge and road approaches to address flooding concerns at this notorious spot, improving freight efficiency for north-south truck movements. Ewen and George should be commended and given an 'Order of the Bruce Highway First Class' for their work in helping to build up and boost the Bruce.

Also, around Mackay, we have the $565 million ring road project. This project is going to boost employment, in an area that is struggling at the moment, with 600 jobs directly. The ring road will take heavy vehicles off local roads and will help with the construction of 14 new bridges to improve local traffic and flood mitigation.

In Capricornia in Central Queensland—I drove this on the weekend with Michelle Landry and Matt Canavan—in the stretch between Mackay and Rockhampton some progress has been made, but we need more overtaking lanes there to improve this long stretch of the Bruce Highway.

Just south of Gladstone, in the seat of Flynn with Ken O'Dowd, the coalition government is putting in $8 million to build new north- and south-bound overtaking lanes, delivering additional opportunities to safely pass larger vehicles. The senators opposite are laughing about this, but the Bruce Highway is a very, very dangerous road. It is a very thin road in places. This coalition government should be commended, and Ken O'Dowd should also get an 'Order of the Bruce Highway First Class' for his work.

In the Bundaberg region, my very good friend Keith Pitt has been doing fantastic work to get an extra $7.1 million to improve drainage south of Torbanlea, $8 million for three intersections near Childers and $6 million for an overtaking lane north of Howard.

Senator O'Sullivan: Don't forget the Range Crossing!

Senator McGRATH: We have the Range Crossing coming up too, which the mob opposite do not support. In Wide Bay Warren Truss, who is the chairman of the 'Order of the Bruce Highway', has done fantastic work in relation to the Cooroy to Curra section. Then down on the Sunshine Coast, where I live, we have Mal Brough, Wyatt Roy, Peter Dutton, Luke Howarth and Ted O'Brien pushing for upgrades to the Bruce Highway to six lanes between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, and to improve the Gateway Motorway between the Deagon Deviation and the Bruce Highway to reduce the flooding impacts on the Bruce Highway. Every time it rains in Queensland—during the summer season it is sometimes every week—the Bruce Highway is cut off.

Senator O'Sullivan: The Range Crossing!

Senator McGRATH: Don't forget the Range Crossing! But also sign the petition at boostthebruce.com.au. Sign the petition and support our calls to boost the Bruce Highway.