Infrastructure in Ryan
Wednesday, 20 February 2019
The leafy western suburbs of Brisbane have always offered an idyllic lifestyle for growing families. With bushland, acreage and parkland in close proximity to the CBD, the allure of Brisbane's western region has continued to increase year on year. From pineapple farms in Moggill to the rolling hills of bushland between Brookfield, The Gap and Upper Kedron, our end of town has seen substantial change over the last 40 years. We all know that increases in population density mean more cars, more traffic, more school-age children, a greater demand on resources and infrastructure—and the list goes on. While the northern suburbs have had upgrades to roads, trains and schools, the south-western part of Ryan has long suffered a lack of investment by successive governments. While you may well think that I speak of the plight which urban sprawl has brought to the western suburbs, it is more that I describe an increasing population which outpaces the capacity and growth of existing infrastructure.
As a government, we are already delivering billions of dollars of funding for congestion-busting roads and rail projects. As the Prime Minister said recently, we want people to get home sooner and have dinner as a family. We want tradies to spend less time on the road and more time at the worksite. For some, it might be a few extra minutes in bed each morning before their daily commute to work or school. Queensland, and specifically South-East Queensland, needs updated infrastructure, schools, water storage and health facilities to ensure that our state remains a major tourist destination and, importantly, one of the world's premier locations to live, work and raise a family. In short, we need a strategic plan and a commitment to deliver it.
Successive Labor state and federal governments have neglected the hardworking taxpayers and residents of the western suburbs of Brisbane. From the era of Goss, Beattie and Bligh to the current tyranny of Palaszczuk and Trad, Brisbane's western suburbs have certainly not maintained infrastructure spends at the pace of other, less densely populated areas.
Long-term planning is absolutely essential to ensure that Australia identifies and protects the land required for the infrastructure that we will all need in order to meet the increasing demand on our transport and other systems and networks that results from a growing population and a growing freight need. I'd like to use this opportunity to speak about the need for increased and better infrastructure spends on roads, schools, new bridges and bridge upgrades, just to name a few.
I start by raising with the House the travesty known as Moggill Road, the mere thought of which has me dreading that hour-long, only eight-kilometre commute from my home to the office. Day in and day out, this major road for those travelling to and from Brisbane's CBD is almost reminiscent of Sydney's peak-hour gridlock.
We must remember that road transport infrastructure is critical to sustaining Australian communities, growing our strong economy and improving our international competitiveness. Time spent sitting in traffic would be better spent making a contribution to business, society and family. The economic impact of peak-hour chaos is detrimental to positive economic impacts. Back in 2007, the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics undertook a study and forecast that the avoidable social costs of congestion will rise to more than $20 billion by 2020. That's now just one year away.
Along with Dr Christian Rowan MP, the state member for Moggill, I have discussed at length and engaged with local road users to determine some short- and long-term positive places of investment to alleviate and futureproof congestion issues—for example, the Kenmore roundabout, to reduce congestion and bottlenecks and increase the flow. Moggill Road between the Kenmore roundabout and Kilkivan Avenue needs to add an outbound lane at Our Lady of the Rosary School to make two lanes each way. Bellbowrie needs a traffic or green bridge over the river from Weekes Road to allow for buses to travel to Bellbowrie and residents to get to the Darra or Wacol train stations. There is upgrading the Centenary bridges and adding lane capacity to the Western Freeway and the Centenary Motorway. Then there is the highly controversial Kenmore Bypass. With land already allotted and designs formulated, this bypass has long been a justifiable option.
It is not just about increasing Brisbane's western transport network; it is about strategy and forethought to ensure new and updated infrastructure has the capacity and ability to cope over the longer term. Unlike the lazy Labor governments, the coalition government is responding to the needs of the economy by building infrastructure that will drive economic growth, create jobs and improve productivity. But we do need a strategic plan. We need all levels of government to be involved and we need community consultation. We need to plan not for now, not for next year, but for future generations. We need a vision and a long-term plan—and then we need to fund it and stick to it.
At a time when the coalition government is giving record funding for education, the western suburbs of Brisbane are crying out for a new school. I have long advocated for the construction of a P-12 in the Pinjarra Hills area of the Ryan electorate. Every school within a 10-kilometre radius of this area is already at capacity. If our part of Brisbane maintains its demographic trends, the requirement for more schools is a must. Since becoming the federal member in 2010, I have time and time again heard from local residents who are forced to send their children to schools as far away as
Ipswich, or to private schools, because of limited capacity nearer to home and local schools that cannot cater.
Kenmore State High School more than serviced the local catchment when it was built in the 1970s but, since then, it has grown to a point where it is now bursting at the seams. We cannot risk our future generations' scholastic aspirations merely because of inadequate school infrastructure. Again, we have a classic bottleneck scenario here, with more than 10 primary schools in the district feeding into Kenmore State High School. If primary schools within the catchment are continuing to grow, the problem is blatantly obvious.
Previously, students from the local school catchment would choose Kenmore State High School for their senior education. It was a close social community and, importantly, it was convenient for local parents. Unfortunately, with more than 10 local schools currently feeding into this one high school, the option is becoming unviable. Again, successive state Labor governments have approved development plans for new housing estates in the area but refuse to acknowledge the need for the resulting infrastructure.
The old University of Queensland vet school site at Pinjarra Hills, I believe, offers a prime location for the construction of a new school. With direct access from public transport and close proximity to the now populated areas of Moggill, Bellbowrie, Karana Downs and Mount Crosby, this location could very well be the solution. While we can blame the significant neglect on successive Labor governments in Queensland—and, indeed, I do—I also believe actions speak louder than words. I use this opportunity to support the commencement of a scoping study to demonstrate our commitment and determination to offer a solution to long identified challenges. Along with my coalition colleagues, I have remain committed to the betterment of infrastructure in our respective communities. Only a strong economy and responsive fiscal policy can provide significant investment in infrastructure, as evidenced by the recent South-East Queensland City Deal.
Having persisted with the slow flow of traffic on Moggill Road, the lack of state government action on a new high school in the area or even the desire to add another bridge across the Brisbane River, I believe only this coalition government has the courage and budgetary position to invest in desperately needed infrastructure to revitalise Brisbane's western suburbs. Strategic investment will transform infrastructure across the country and lay the foundations for future growth. The coalition government is responding to the needs of South-East Queensland by providing investment that will drive economic growth, create jobs and improve productivity, ultimately enhancing local residents' lives and their future generations.