Traffic can be bad on the M1 Picture Glenn Hampson
Traffic can be bad on the M1 Picture Glenn Hampson

Morrison's 'solve-nothing' highway plan backfires locally

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison's one-hour stopover to buy votes in the Gold Coast's only marginal seat has backfired, with fed-up motorists saying his $50 million pledge to fix two exits will do nothing to solve the M1's traffic woes.

Drivers and business leaders in the city's fast-growing northern corridor reacted angrily to Mr Morrison's announcement yesterday to upgrade exits 41 and 49 at Yatala and Pimpama.

Locals say they are furious at the increasing congestion. Picture Glenn Hampson
Locals say they are furious at the increasing congestion. Picture Glenn Hampson

To make matters worse, Labor said it would match the deal, despite admitting the money would fix only a quarter of the two interchanges.

"It is horrible, especially with the school traffic in the early morning and the afternoon - the fluoro army," said Pimpama electrician Daniel Hughes.

"I am not sure how far $50 million is going to go."

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison making the announcement yesterday. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison making the announcement yesterday. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Cheryl Broadhurst, who has lived on the Gold Coast for 23 years, says it takes her 10 minutes to drive less than 100m from her workplace at Pimpama to the M1.

"It takes a long time to get across the road, even just to get out of the shops and on to the M1. I want to see more money spent."

Gold Coast North Chamber of Commerce president Gary Mays said motorists were sick of waiting for governments to solve the city's congestion issues.

"We all know what the problems are with the M1 and if the PM was smart he'd be putting the money into the second M1, but that's going to cost a bloody fortune too," he said.

"People are so fed up they want private enterprise to just build it and make it a toll road because they are just sick of it.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) points at a map before making the funding announcement (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre) points at a map before making the funding announcement (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Mayor Tom Tate welcomed the announcement, but was underwhelmed.

"They are saying he's got the money but I say money is good, talk is good but we need an overall deal and get this all resolved," he said.

"I welcome the announcement but I would welcome it more if, and when, the sod is turned and things actually become a reality."

Mr Morrison announced the funding during his quick stopover in the marginal seat of Forde. Retaining the seat is essential to the Coalition Government winning the May federal election.

Labor supporters hold signs and shout slogans at Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Labor supporters hold signs and shout slogans at Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Aside from the $50 million on the M1 exits, the Prime Minister committed $80 million to the Ipswich Motorway and $30 million for the Mt Lindesay Highway.

The fact Mr Morrison even stepped foot on the Coast trumped election rival Bill Shorten who refused to come to the Coast during his nine-day Contiki tour of Queensland.

Work is already underway on the $2 billion widening of the M1 in the city's south from Mudgeeraba to Tugun as well as north of the Gold Coast at Eight Mile Plains.

Both projects were jointly funded by the state and federal governments and only came after years of inaction.

The ageing infrastructure is struggling to cope as the city's population grows at an annual rate of around 14,670 people, according to Treasury figures.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and the Member for Forde Bert van Manen. Forde is the Coast’s sole marginal electorate. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and the Member for Forde Bert van Manen. Forde is the Coast’s sole marginal electorate. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

At Exit 49 some motorists have reported taking up to 23 minutes to travel 150 metres along Pimpama's Yawalpah Road.

The Palaszczuk Government's transport experts say $50 million will fix only a quarter of the work on each exit.

The Commonwealth has not reached out to the State yet for the traditional 50-50 split on funding for exits. No time frame has been set for work.

Flanked by local MPs, Mr Morrison said: "This is another important local congestion-busting series of projects.

"These do two things - they get people where they need to go quickly and more safely.

"Whether it is getting home to have dinner as a family, being home to help the kids with their homework or a tradie who is spending time on the job where they can build as opposed to spending time in their ute in the traffic."

State Transport Minister Mark Bailey said: "Gold Coast residents may well ask Prime Minister Scott Morrison 'where the bloody hell were ya?' after he gave most of state's entire allocation from a federal congestion fund to projects in the greater Brisbane area.

"Where was the money for the Gold Coast. The Prime Minister has once again diverted Gold Coast federal roads funding to buy LNP votes in marginal Brisbane electorates.

"Even the new funding allocations for two M1 interchanges, Ipswich Motorway and Mt Lindesay Highway and suburban road upgrades fall a long way short of what's needed for all of those projects."

The Palaszczuk Government had begun planning to upgrade exits 41 and 49, and costed both about $100 million each.

Labor Forde candidate Des Hardman told the Bulletin: "I have lobbied Bill Shorten and Shadow Ministers about the need for these upgrades, so I am pleased they have committed the funding today.

"The bottom line is that, no matter who wins the coming federal election, this funding will be delivered."

"This is good news for Logan and Gold Coast residents, who have suffered terrible delays on the M1 and Mt Lindesay Highway for far too long."

Gold Coast-based Senator Murray Watt said the LNP for six years had refused to fund the upgrades needed on these highways, even while new housing developments have added thousands more cars to local roads.

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"Now, weeks before an election, they want to pretend they care. Logan and Gold Coast residents will see the LNP's announcement for what it is - a desperate, last minute move from a government that has spent years taking them for granted," he said.

"These announcements and the others made by the Prime Minister this week, are a drop in the ocean, compared to the $2 billion that he has cut from infrastructure funding to South East Queensland."

Despite his state colleagues campaigning heavily for the M2, Mr Morrison yesterday said

he was focused only on 'local investments which need to be made right now."

"We are focused on the projects we are announcing and delivering today. We are always looking at ways we can get people home sooner and safer," he said.

We are open to suggestions of how this can be done better."

He was backed by Fadden MP Stuart Robert who urged the State Government to "pick up the phone" and start negotiations.



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