6 February, 2024

Signing up for a long fight ahead

Over 9000 signatures have been collected in protest against Stage 4 of the Bruce Highway, as frustrated homeowners fearing resumptions say efforts to collaborate with Transport bureaucrats have failed.

Jason Smith with Minister for Transport, Steve Minnikin, and member for Glass House Andrew Powell.
Jason Smith with Minister for Transport, Steve Minnikin, and member for Glass House Andrew Powell.

An intense grassroots campaign, being fought by residents of Elimbah, Moodlu and Caboolture, has been labelled “unprecedented” and “exceptional” by LNP Glass House MP Andrew Powell, who said that Transport and Main Roads’ proposed routes were flawed.

The proposed Bruce Highway Western Alternative (BHWA)– announced in November last year – extends through Moodlu before two proposed branches, east and west of Beerburrum Road, through Elimbah.

The Highway then connects to Steve Irwin Way, south of Beerburrum township.

TMR eventually extended a deadline for submissions, to February 9, after outrage over the pre-Christmas announcement.

Despite a number of meetings between TMR and worried residents, antipathy and frustration over the proposed routes, which could require over 100 resumptions, has only increased.

Jason Smith, spokesperson from the opposition to the BHWA, said he had been left disappointed and angered, following a meeting with TMR project officers on January 24.

He said at the meeting, community members had sought to establish a collaborative working relationship with TMR and establish a formal protocol for communication between the working group and TMR.

He also sought a better understanding of proposed project timeframes.

But Mr Smith said he was advised that TMR would be unable to provide that level of community engagement and a decision on that request would be made after the closing date for community submissions.

“The general takeaway from the meeting was that a collaborative working relationship will not happen, that the project team isn’t empowered to provide that level of engagement,” Mr Smith said.

“The fact that the answer would be after the engagement closure period was extremely disappointing for the community.

“I have no confidence that TMR are able to have a collaborative engagement with the community or even other organisations.”

Following the TMR meeting, group members met with Mr Powell and the Shadow Minister for Transport, Steve Minnikin, on January 25.

The MPs were taken on a tour of the proposed TMR route and options, so they could see the level of impact on the community, its history, culture and environment.

Speaking with The Sentinel, Mr Powell said the sitting with community members afterwards, was one of the most powerful and emotional meetings he had ever held in 15 years.

“The stories that people shared and the impact this has had on their lives, you couldn’t help but been shaken by it. Both the shadow minister and I were deeply impacted by it,” he said.

Mr Powell said that his colleague, Mr Minnikin, was very supportive of the work the community group and its advocates were doing to propose a more appropriate route, which would provide less impact to the community.

“We both want to commend Jason and the group for their organisation and strategic approach to this issue,” Mr Powell said.

“I’ve not seen a community protest group this organised ever - what they have achieved in such a short period of time, in galvanising the community and raising awareness of the issue, has been exceptional.

“TMR have got this so wrong, not only in the route but in the announcement, just before Christmas, and the way they have gone about consultation.”

Mr Powell said he was planning to table the petition in parliament on Tuesday February 13.

He also said he planned to do a speech to parliament later in the evening and table all of the submissions that had been collected.

“I think the combined effect of the petition, which has garnered thousands of signatures, and some really powerful and similar submissions,” he said.

“And the fact we are drawing attention to it through the media and in parliament, means TMR and the minister responsible need to sit up and listen.”


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