Mayor Bob Manning demands a “fair go” from government on Cairns ring road
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning has called on the Federal and State governments to “step up to their responsibilities” and take the National Highway through Cairns city as part of a long-debated ring road.
TropicNow yesterday reported on the progress of the mooted project in light of a $50 billion, 10-year plan for roads, rail and runways announced in this week’s Federal Budget.
The ring road project would see the national Bruce Highway from the south connected to the Captain Cook and Kennedy Highways to the north, incorporating the port, airport and areas including Portsmith and Stratford.
Speaking with TropicNow this morning, Mr Manning said Cairns Regional Council, along with lobby groups including Advance Cairns, had been bringing the issue to the government for years, but had repeatedly been given “the cold shoulder”.
“We’ve been pursuing this with the Federal Government for some time, but as is often the case with local government, when you whistle, you’ve got to learn to whistle for a long time,” Mr Manning said.
“Any other city or regional centre in Queensland, they get the National Highway going right through the city.
“Here, we have to pick up the bill for what is effectively National Highway traffic through the city.
“If you’re on the end of the line like we are, it’s as if it’s okay for us to be forgotten about. And I don’t think that’s anybody’s intention.
“But it’s always hard to get governments to pick up on something that they haven’t been doing, and to rectify it.
“When you’re just a council like we are, it’s pretty hard to bring the government to heel.
“We don’t want something special, we just want a fair go.”
A “BUCKET OF MONEY”… BUT WILL CAIRNS GET ANY?
Mr Manning said the issue of a ring road had been raised at every Budget round, and brought to the attention of “anybody that’s coming through who’s got some say in that area” since his Unity Team came to power in 2012.
However, it remains unclear if Council will make a formal submission for government funding as part of the $50 billion infrastructure funding.
Yesterday, Leichardt MP Warren Entsch told TropicNow that there was a “bucket of money” on offer, provided a formal proposal and funding application were submitted first.
“If we went around making formal submissions on every request we’ve got, we would spend a lot of money and waste a lot of time, because not many get up,” Mr Manning said.
“It’s all right for a Federal MP to say we’ve got to have a formal submission, but hang on, you live in the area, you know the area, you know what its problems are, but unless you’re told about them, you don’t see them?”
“It’s a nonsense. If you live here, you must know what the problems are, otherwise the question is: what are you doing?
“On the other hand, when we’re aware that there is an allocation of money that is specifically for roads which could be applied in this instance, once we know what the expenditure rules are, then we will put something with the government.
“But only if it’s appropriate and if the money is actually available.”
SHERIDAN STREET: A NATIONAL HIGHWAY?
Mr Manning said the much-discussed ring road plan would involve the extension of the national Bruce Highway – which currently ends where Ray Jones Drive meets Draper Street – through the city.
“Sheridan Street has probably got to be the highway through Cairns,” Mr Manning said.
“A previous engineer had the idea of having an alternate route going through the Brinsmead Valley, but that’s all developed now.
"Short of major resumptions, I just don’t think that’ll ever happen.”
Mr Manning said the proposal would also provide a “pathway” to the port and airport, before meeting up with the Smithfield roundabout and the roads north and west from there.