20 February, 2024

Minister agrees to meet with community over highway

Community members fearing their houses could be resumed to make way for a proposed Bruce Highway Western Alternative (BHWA) route have finally been granted a meeting with State Transport Minister Bart Mellish.

Jason Smith and Andrew Powell.
Jason Smith and Andrew Powell.

The meeting, to be held on February 23, follows an extensive grassroots campaign that galvanised thousands of residents, with a petition of nearly 11,000 signatures having been tabled in parliament last week.

The proposed routes travel through East Caboolture, Moodlu and Elimbah before intersecting with Steve Irwin Way south of Beerburrum.

Lead petitioner, Jason Smith, said he was pleased that after months of lobbying, two representatives from BHWA opposition group had secured a meeting with Mr Mellish, TMR Regional Director, Scott Whitaker, and Member for Pumicestone, Ali King.

“It is the intention of the working group to represent directly to the minister the impact that the proposed routes have,” he said.

“It is to advocate for TMR to come back with an alternative which minimises impact on the community, places sustainable public transport and upgrades of current infrastructure well before the construction of new highways.”

Mr Smith said, while the support was incredible, the achievements to date were just the first steps of a marathon.

“This will be an ongoing campaign until we have a route that minimises impact and solves long term problems,” he said.

“We fully expect TMR to come back with either an alternative route for feedback or to inform us of a final route decision in order that they can protect a future transport corridor.

“In protecting a corridor, it will place an undue burden on those impacted, with the only option to be applying for early resumption or wait decades until resumption occurs.”

Mr Smith said the acceptance of growth and progress was inevitable, but minimising the impact required a strong and selfless community, and the overwhelming majority understood that the proposed routes threatened the fabric of the local community.

“I am proud to be part of a selfless community that, when challenged, stands together to minimise impact, advocates for and supports any of its members that are impacted,” Mr Smith said.

“We will not accept a route that does not minimise impact, when that route is forced upon the community.

“We will support and advocate for those impacted, utilising community donated funds for legal and professional services, as well as people power.”

On Tuesday, February 13, Member for Glass House, Andrew Powell, officially tabled the combined written and e-petition that garnered 10,801 signatures.

That evening, Mr Powell highlighted the outstanding community cohesion displayed by the communities of Moodlu, Caboolture East, and Elimbah in voicing their unified opposition to the proposed Bruce Highway Western Alternative - Stage 4 in a speech to parliament.

In his speech, Mr Powell urged ministers and government officials to recognise the vital importance of engaging with local communities in long-term state planning processes.

He said the consultation process facilitated by the Department of Transport and Main Roads had left the communities feeling marginalised and distrustful.

“This lack of respect for community input undermines the democratic process and erodes trust in government institutions,” he said.

Speaking with The Sentinel, Mr Powell said the minister and government now had four weeks to consider the petition before providing a response, and he would be updating the community the minute it was publicly available.

“Achieving a combined total of more than 10,000 signatures is significant. It’s certainly the largest petition I’ve sponsored in my 15 years as the Member for Glass House,” Mr Powell said.

“It’s my understanding that TMR will be considering the community’s submissions concurrently.

“They have previously proposed announcing a ‘preferred route’ in April or May of this year. I’ll be working alongside the community every step of the way.

“There’s a better way to do this. There are alternatives that will have less impact.”


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