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The Palaszczuk Government has officially launched a key cornerstone of its Future-Proofing the Bruce plan with the first meeting of the Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council.

The Trust brings together leaders of Queensland’s peak transport and industry bodies to drive a long-term vision for jobs and upgrades on Queensland’s longest road, the 1,679km-long Bruce Highway.

Members of the Trust gathered today on the Sunshine Coast for their first meeting to develop a strategy and rolling five-year action plans for the highway, which stretches from Brisbane’s north to Cairns.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the formation of the Trust would take the politics out the Bruce and lock in a pipeline of jobs in traditional infrastructure industries for the Sunshine State as it bounces back from COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has impacted global economies, and both Australia and Queensland haven’t been immune. Because Queensland continues to manage the health response, it means we are well placed to continue implementing our plan for economic recovery, which includes kick-starting the work of the Bruce Highway Trust,” Mr Bailey said.

“You only have to look at the projects happening right now on the Bruce like the $481m Edmonton to Gordonvale upgrade or $497m Mackay Ring Road to see what can happen when all levels of government work together.

“The Bruce Highway is Queensland’s backbone that millions of Queenslanders depend on. It connects locals in growing regional centres, and is the state’s economic artery, moving freight between our ports and regional communities, and from paddocks and pits to export markets.

There’s currently $12.6 billion in joint-funding locked in for the Bruce Highway right now helping to build major job creating, congestion busting projects like:

  • $1 billion Cooroy to Curra Section D (Gympie Bypass) –
  • $812 million Bruce Highway upgrade from Caloundra Road to the Sunshine Motorway – 680 jobs
  • $662 million Bruce Highway Caboolture to Steve Irwin Way early works – 664 jobs (for the entire project)
  • $514 million Haughton River Floodplain project at Giru, 40km south of Townsville – 544 jobs
  • $497 million Mackay Ring Road – 534 jobs
  • $481 million Bruce Highway upgrade from Edmonton to Gordonvale in Cairns – 466 jobs
  • $121 million Rockhampton Northern Access Upgrade – 260 jobs
  • $150 million Bruce Highway interchange upgrade at Deception Bay – 270 jobs
  • $104 million Cairns Southern Access Kate to Aumuller streets bridge decks – 113 jobs
  • $50 million Bruce Highway safety upgrades between Mackay and Proserpine – 95 jobs

“But we know more can be done, and that’s why the Palaszczuk Government committed to creating the Trust to ensure vital freight and transport networks are secured for generations to come.

Based on 80:20 funding arrangements, the rolling five-year action plans will identify upgrades to the Bruce Highway which are most important to Queenslanders, for future federal and state government funding consideration.

Mr Bailey said the advisory council was chaired by Peter Garske.

“Mr Garske is a director of the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council and former chief executive of the Queensland Trucking Association, and previous Deputy Chair of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator” he said.

“The deputy chair role is Barbara Madden, company director of the Smithfield Group who has considering experience.”

Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council Chair Peter Garske said the Bruce Highway was critically important to the broad economic and social wellbeing of all Queenslanders.

“Members of the Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council have the expertise to assist state and federal governments to achieve the goals of unlocking economic growth, building flood resilience and improving safety through targeted investment on this vital economic spine,” Mr Garske said.

“I look forward to drawing on my experience as Queensland Transport and Logistics Council Director and many years working in the industry, to bring an industry perspective to my responsibilities as Chair of the Advisory Council.”

Membership of the Bruce Highway Trust Advisory Council:

  • Chair – Peter Garske, a director on the Queensland Transport and Logistics Council and former chief executive officer of the Queensland Trucking Association
  • Deputy chair – Barbara Madden, company director of the Smithfield Group
  • Chief executive officer, Local Government Association of Queensland – Greg Hallam AM, PSM
  • Chief communication officer, Royal Automobile Club of Queensland – Paul Turner
  • Chief executive officer, Queensland Trucking Association – Gary Mahon
  • Chief executive officer, Queensland Farmers’ Federation – Travis Tobin
  • Chief executive officer, Queensland Tourism Industry Council – Daniel Gschwind
  • Branch secretary, Transport Workers’ Union – Peter Biagini

Transport and Main Roads Director-General Neil Scales and Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Secretary Simon Atkinson will also participate on the advisory council to provide subject matter and governance expertise.