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Pie in the sky: Katter's regional road claims hit some turbulence


The aviation credentials of Katter’s Australian Party leader Robbie Katter have been highlighted by Transport Minister Mark Bailey to ridicule his calls for more rural road funding.

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Katter wants revenue from new covert cameras catching motorists on mobile phones to be diverted to the upkeep of rural and regional roads.

The ‘high-flying’ Traegar MP, who obtained his pilot’s licence in 2018, said the $80 million of additional revenue expected to be raised annually from the new cameras should be redirected to improve safety for motorists travelling in regional Queensland.

But Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the comments showed Katter had his “head in the clouds”.

“Aviator Robbie ‘Kingsford-Smith’ Katter needs to get out of the plane and drive on regional roads occasionally,” he said.

“Anyone who has driven regularly on regional Queensland roads, including the Bruce Highway, couldn’t miss the large number of roadworks under way due to the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s commitment to regional Queensland.

“For ‘Kingsford-Smith’ Katter to suggest otherwise shows he and his Katter Party haven’t been held up at roadworks or driven in a 40 zone lately as he’s looking at his altitude gauge not his speedo.”

Katter said the state of rural and regional roads was deadly serious, with the network across Queensland over-represented in fatalities.

The latest RACQ data lists Callide, Nanango, Burnett, Gympie and Traeger as the most dangerous electorates in Queensland based on road deaths.

Katter said that while driver attention and patience was crucial, the regions often had to battle with sub-standard road conditions that were risking lives.

“While the south-east is undergoing a multi-billion-dollar upgrade of its transport network with the Cross River Rail, we are pleading for widening works, overtaking lanes and bridge upgrades for regional roads,” he said.

“The further west you go, the worse it is with the bad conditions compounded by the high amount of heavy haulage being freighted by road when it should really be on the rail.”

Bailey agreed the fatality rate on regional roads was much higher than urban areas,  yet all the evidence showed a lack of seatbelt wearing and mobile phone distraction were two key causes of regional families being devastated by preventable crashes.

“Kingsford-Smith Katter’ needs to leave his plane in the hangar occasionally and get out on regional roads and drive them himself like I’ve been doing today in Cape York, because if he did, he’d see the record levels of investment going into them,” Bailey told InQueensland from where he was touring far north Queensland.

Bailey said that over the next four years, the Palaszczuk Government would deliver a record $27.5 billion roads and transport plan, which would create 24,000 jobs and drive Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

He said this included delivering $17.5 billion worth of projects across regional Queensland, supporting 15,870 jobs.

The state government’s new covert camera fines will see people hit with a $1033 bill if they are caught on their mobile phone or without a seatbelt.

“This is an exorbitantly high figure, and much higher than the penalties handed out for drink or drug driving,” Katter said.

“This has led to many, including the KAP, being concerned the fines are a cash grab.

“So now we need assurances the $80-million plus the Government could make annually out of these new measures is spent on the same purpose for which is it collected – to save lives on the roads.”

Bailey said all money collected from camera fines would be used to fund important road safety initiatives and education across Queensland.

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