Labor branches call for Premier's help with interchange
THREE Sunshine Coast Labor Party branches will take a motion to the party's state conference urging Premier Anna Palaszczuk to intervene in the dispute over the design of the Caloundra Rd-Bruce Hwy interchange.
The Glass House, Caloundra and Kawana branches have thrown their support behind the Save the Steve Irwin Forest group which is lobbying the government to have the Department of Transport and Main Roads redesign the interchange to better address environmental concerns and those of the business community clustered around Aussie World.
Support from the three branches is significant given the level of swings to Labor at the January poll which saw Glass House reduced from a 20.4% to1.4% margin in favour of the LNP, Caloundra drop from 21.2% to 3.8% and Kawana - which has one of the strongest LNP branches in the state - fall from a 26.3% margin to 10.1%.
Labor's Glass House candidate Brent Hampstead is still actively engaged locally as well as being part of his party's Brisbane mayoral campaign team while Caloundra candidate Jason Hunt remains head of his branch and engaged in community and business issues.
Both aim to seek re-endorsement to contest the seats at the next election.
Labor Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey yesterday said his department was evaluating alternative layouts in a bid to further reduce the effect on the forest.
But he made clear that he thought there had already been significant compromise on the interchange design.
"We understand the community's desire for the environment to be preserved as much as possible and we are committed to achieving the best environmental outcomes during the construction phase bearing in mind our commitment to enhanced road safety," the Minister said.
"There's been extensive community consultation reducing the project on the Beerwah State Forest by 11 hectares, compared with the previous draft plan.
"This means only five per cent of the forest will be affected preserving 95% of Beerwah State Forest."
Mr Hunt conceded there had been some concessions from Main Roads but said more were needed.
"We do think a better job could be done (with the design)," he said.
The Steve Irwin Way Forest action group on Thursday held a short protest outside Transport and Main Roads offices in Maroochydore before meeting departmental staff.