Transcript - ABC Capricornia - Interview with Paul Robinson

Interviewer: Paul Robinson  Topic: beef roads

Jacquie Mackay (compere):
But first, the Rockhampton Region is set to receive $20 million dollars from a $56 million package to improve Queensland's Beef Roads. The funds are to improve access to the meat works, and the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, say the benefits will be wide reaching…

Minister Canavan:
Today we're investing $100 million across the country to improve our roads for the beef sector, and more than $50 million of that will go to Queensland. This is great news for central Queensland. Of course, being the beef capital if you like, all beef roads lead to Rockhampton. So major investments in our region, including upgrades that will help reduce or remove the need to de-couple at Gracemere, and will allow road train access through Rockhampton. This is not just as important as a method of saving for the industry but it also helps improve safety and help avoid hopefully the tragedy we had a couple of years ago. 

Paul Robinson (news reporter):
And certainly having to uncouple, take half the load to the meat works and go back again and get the rest is very inefficient…. 

Minister Canavan:
Well this is a complaint I hear right across central Queensland. It's obviously an investment for Rockhampton, to help Rockhampton and it will help the whole region because last time I was out at Clermont, people were raising to me the issues of the Gracemere decoupling and how much cost that puts on the cattle sector. So this is great news for the cattle sector. The cheaper we can move cattle from our properties through to market, through eventually to markets in Asia, the more money we'll make and the more money you'll spend around our town and that's good news for all of central Queensland.

Paul Robinson:
So this includes an upgrade of the intersection outside the Stocklands shopping centre, to allow those longer trucks to turn in the city streets? 

Minister Canavan:
That's right. It'll also provide upgrades through Rockhampton to allow access. The State Government has also put some funding in towards that. There are other works in the region as well, like the Clermont-Alpha Road, a road that has got a lot of complaints. This will of course help the beef sector, but also helps all the people in central Queensland to get better access through and around their area. So while these roads are principally being chosen because they will save the beef sector, it'll also have benefits for residents in central Queensland and other industries as well. 

Paul Robinson:
With the access in Rockhampton, there had been suggestions of a third bridge down near the abattoirs to improve access. Do you feel that wasn't a feasible option? 

Minister Canavan:
Well at this stage, the program that we're announcing today is the $100 million Beef Roads package. It will save the cattle industry across Australia around $2 million a year, according to the CSIRO. It's a substantial saving, substantial benefit. Bigger projects like a bypass around Rockhampton or a third bridge over the Fitzroy are obviously going to cost a lot more than we have available in this package. Those things are being considered. We have already put money aside to obtain an easement, potentially for a third bridge. That route at the moment goes west of the airport, west of the town, so it would not necessarily increase access for the meat works. I have met with others who would like to look at an eastern route, which I will discuss with Main Roads, but that is a project that is continuing. I see the local mayor is very keen for it to move ahead, but we do need to move carefully in this area because obviously it has impacts on businesses in Rockhampton and also the future planning of our whole region. 

Paul Robinson:
And of course our beef producers will be happy with this package announced over the weekend, but also they'll be happy with more rain that's fallen in the region. 

Minister Canavan:
Yeah it's been a pretty good winter and hopefully some good signs leading into the summer with the rain we're seeing. Prices are at record highs, so it's fantastic news for the beef sector and I think that is starting to flow through to our town. Conversations I've had with businesses recently, I've heard the words ‘green shoots’ mentioned regularly and people do seem to be having more confidence, which is great for our region and of course coal prices are up too, which is having a boost for that sector. So we're moving hopefully into a better period after a couple of years of hard times with the slowing of the mining sector as well.

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