Far North Queensland mayors will meet senior Ministers and Shadow Ministers in Canberra this week to put forward a pre-federal election wish list.
The future of the Kennedy Highway (Kuranda Range Road) will be of particular importance to the delegation, which is seeking a commitment of $800 million towards a total of $1 billion to fund safety and reliability improvements.
“The Kennedy Highway is travelled by nearly 9000 vehicles a day, including more than 1000 commercial and heavy vehicles,” Cook Shire Mayor and Far North Queensland Region of Councils deputy chairman Peter Scott said.
“It’s an incredibly important transport link from both an economic and a social perspective.
“Yet we have, on average, 1.3 unplanned closures of the road every week and one person injured every four days while travelling on the Kuranda Range.
“These incidents are costing the broader community more than $870,000 a week in health services and property damage, on top of lost productivity.
“We need all levels of government to work together towards a solution.”
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning will be one of the mayors travelling to Canberra.
“This is our chance to put our joint priorities to both sides of government prior to the election period,” Cr Manning said.
“This delegation provides an opportunity for all Far North Queensland councils to work together for the good of the broader region.
“A shared approach holds greater weight and demonstrates the level of co-operation and co-ordination we have up here.”
Key meetings include with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Northern Australia Minister Matthew Canavan, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia Jason Clare, Defence Shadow Minister Richard Marles and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen.
Commitments are being sought on 11 topics critical to the far north, including environmental management, tourism infrastructure, digital connectivity, water and transport.
Other commitments being sought include expansion of HMAS Cairns, a review of existing management of the Great Barrier Reef, remote housing projects for indigenous communities, and relationship-building with Papua New Guinea that would enable the establishment of a joint NRL venture with Cairns.