'Fix hwy now or have blood on your hands: O'Brien tells Feds

FIX THE HIGHWAY NOW: Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien in Gympie with Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack.
FIX THE HIGHWAY NOW: Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien in Gympie with Transport and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack. Renee Albrecht

WIDE Bay MP Llew O'Brien has put his own government on notice that its members will have blood on their hands if work does not start soon on the Bruce Highway's Gympie bypass.

Mr O'Brien said too many people were dying on the Gympie northside road which would be replaced by the bypass.

"If we don't fund this now, it'll be our responsibility every time someone dies," he said.

He brushed off calls for a high-speed rail service between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, saying it was trivial compared to saving lives.

He said it was good to plan for the future, "but to me the priority is, in terms of transport, Section D of the Bruce Highway and a ring road around Gympie".

"This is not a long-term, fast-train-type project, this is one that needs to be funded in this budget and construction needs to start within 12 months," he said.

"I've got a road just north of this rail project that really should be in a Third World country - it's a patchwork of asphalt, there's grass growing up in the middle of it, people are dying on it.

"So, as you can appreciate, concepts of fast rail aren't a priority in the same way for me. My people in Wide Bay are dying on this road regularly and I'm not going to put up with it any more.

"Details are done on this job. We own the corridor where it will go. From now on, if we don't fund this, then for every month if someone dies, the blame will go on those who did not fund it.

"Absolutely," Mr O'Brien said when asked if this meant his government in Canberra.

"If we don't fund this now - the business case is done, the land is acquired, the detailed design is finished, knowing what we know about this death road - if we don't fund it, it'll be our responsibility every time someone dies.

"There is no reason why this should not be funded in this year's budget.

"I'm absolutely sick of urban convenience coming ahead of rural and regional lives."

Mr O'Brien told ABC Coast FM the people of Wide Bay had sent him to Canberra "to do a job."

That job included "to make them safe and to build infrastructure that's going to build the economy and keep them in a job - and that's what I'm going to do".

"In the past 12 months or so, there's been six people killed in or very near to what will be replaced by Section D," he said.

"Two of those were two little kids. They're all tragic, but that was extremely so."

Topics:  bruce highway editors picks gympie llew o'brien maryborough michael mccormack

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