Transport in the region – we need your help!

Sep 20, 2018 | Mayor's Blog

Extract from the Central and North Burnett Times, 20 September 2018.

We all have a ‘gut feel’ through our experiences that regional areas such as ours don’t get their fair share of care. Gut feel however is not enough to argue with when it comes to getting our point across in Brisbane or Canberra.

We all know that our roads need more maintenance. We can see it, we can feel it and after doing a gap analysis this year, in council, we know it to be true. In regards to our local roads, we are 33% underfunded in our annual roads program (currently gap is estimated at $3 million). For all of us that means that our roads are being maintained to the current intervention levels only 66% of the time and for councilors it basically means that 3 out of every 10 road phone calls is an angry one.

In order to get more money to spend on our roads we have one of three options. The first is we can reduce expenditure. This one we are working on with our new CEO who has a background in industry and is delving down deep to ensure we are running as efficiently as possible.

The second way is to increase rates however to get the further $3 million we need, we would have to increase rates next year by 37.5%, so that’s not going to be the way forward.

And lastly, we can advocate on behalf of our community in order to garner more money from our State and Federal governments. This is where things get complicated.

Of course we are not the only local government asking for more money – so what makes us so special? And this is where gut feel needs to take a back seat to real data. See I can argue till the cows come home when I have real data on which to base my argument, where we fall down is when we only go on our own experiences. Politicians from Brisbane and Canberra don’t share our experiences, they don’t understand what it’s like to drive on our roads and to be frank, our limited population (translated to votes) doesn’t warrant them to care.

So it is our job to work through the data to ‘prove’ to government why we are worthy of the extra investment. Note I said ‘our’ job. I don’t say this lightly. You have to help me do this. North Burnett is leading the charge to have the economic value of the products along its roads to be included in the methodology of road funding. Our argument is this: current methodologies which base investment on traffic count are not reflective of the reasons our roads exist. Our roads exist to move produce, not people and as such the investment the produce makes to the state and federal governments should be factored as part of the cost benefit analysis of investment into them.

Unfortunately, data about our industries and the roads they use in and out of the region is severely lacking. We have both USQ and QUT both helping us with this data BUT….we also asked months ago for industry to be invested in this and complete a survey which would help us argue the point…and I’m so disappointed to say that to date we have received 8 back. We can’t do this alone, we really need your help. We are doing all we can to improve this situation but without the help of our industries and people using our roads we can’t argue our case effectively. It’s a short survey but one that may be hugely worthwhile.

Survey can be found at www.northburnett.qld.gov.au/transport

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