"We are united. Our voice is strong"

Published 4:00pm 14 December 2023

"We are united. Our voice is strong"
Words by Nick Crockford

Campaigners fighting the proposed route of a new highway have called on residents to ‘stand up’ now, while there is still time stop it.

Local politicians joined them at a community meeting last night which packed Elimbah Soldiers Memorial Hall, overflowing to the grounds and roadside.

Together they urged hundreds in the audience to reject proposed route options for Stage 4 of the Bruce Highway Western Alternative (BHWA).

The route, released two weeks ago, has two options through Elimbah to Moodlu, which shocked residents who believed it was going further west.

Transport and Main Roads (TMR) has sent letters to around 120 homeowners, warning their land may be needed for the new highway.

Residents immediately launched a campaign to Halt Stage 4, saying the route is “unacceptable” and demanding “proper options” from TMR planners. 

TMR’s public consultation sessions were heavily criticised last night, with residents saying they were told the routes cannot be changed, felt few questions were answers and believed the sessions were just a “box-ticking exercise”.

State Member for Pumicestone Ali King said public consultation had been extended to February 9 and more information sessions would be held, in Elimbah on January 20. To book a place click here.

However, it still leaves campaigners just eight weeks, which includes the long Christmas and New Year holidays and shutdown, to respond.

“It’s such a short window to get something done, it is unbelievable,” said Jason Smith, one of the campaign leaders whose home may be impacted.

“It’s like responding to a government tender that takes nine months, in four or five weeks because it’s across Christmas.”

But he added: “We are a community. We are united. Our voice is strong. The fight that’s in front of us is to change the route.

“There’s going to be a Stage 4. We need to make sure Stage 4 is acceptable to the community. To do that, we need to offer alternatives.

“These are our homes, these are our properties, we’ve worked all our lives, paid our taxes and done the right thing. We should stand up for ourselves.”

"We are united. Our voice is strong"
The proposed route of BHWA Stage 4

Mr Smith unveiled an action plan calling on residents in the area, region and beyond to send reasoned feedback to TMR and support the awareness campaign in person and online.

He urged as many as possible to sign a Parliamentary e-Petition launched by State Member for Glass House Andrew Powell who will table in it State Parliament when it returns in mid-February.

Mr Smith urged residents to lobby the transport minister and said submissions were planned on "every single aspect" - an alternative route, the environment, housing and agriculture.

Campaigners are also arranging weekly “town hall” meetings, workshops, education sessions about the processes and getting legal experts to advise residents.

“I’m sorry,” said State Member for Pumicestone Andrew Powell, who raised similar issues on the BHWA public consultation in parliament twice last year.

"What’s occurred to you must be one of the most gut-wrenching and heartless things … three weeks before Christmas.

“I’ve been dealing with this (BHWA) process for nearly two years. I’ve given them (TMR) feedback on how poorly I thought they announced Stages 1 and 2 and how poorly the community consultation went.

“Tragically it has not been heeded and we are in this situation again.

The poster which campaigners are putting up to support their campaign.

“The outcome can only be changed if we work together. (We) need as consistent message as possible about the alternative preferred route.

“(We) need to move this (route) to the edge of the urban footprint and for this to become the equivalent of a ring road.

“Urban footprint inside (the ring road), agriculture on the other side. To me that is the only possible solution.

“Don’t give up hope. The final (BHWA) Stage 2 route was neither of the two put out.”

Ali King said the TMR Regional Director was “happy to sit down” for a meeting with Halt State 4 campaigners.

“I congratulate everyone for stepping up,” she said. “The more community power you can mobilise, the better your chances of having a powerful impact.

“Please make sure you have your say - and you keep having your say. Talk about the specific reasons for concerns rather than saying ‘I don’t like it’.

“If you have alternatives to offer, put them together in a document and put them forward to TMR. Let’s get you some more answers because that is really important.”

The Bruce Highway Western Alternative will, when complete, be 50kms long.

Councillor Tony Latter, who met TMR officials last week, said Moreton Bay City Council was formulating its response which would go before councillors in late January.

“This has been next-level co-ordination and activation,” he said, congratulating campaigners. “The timing, a couple of weeks out from Christmas is a total disregard for the community.

“This is a whole community issue … engage.”

Future Stage Four information sessions will be in Wamuran on January 16 and 20 outlining corridor options and giving those present a chance to meet the project team.

Registration is required. Some sessions are already booked out. Click here for more information.

Feedback can be given on the Transport and Main Roads’ online consultation page, by phone on 1800 955 799 and by email to NCR_Planning_Comms@tmr.qld.gov.au.

It can also be submitted in writing and posted to: Bruce Highway Western Alternative, Department of Transport and Main Roads, PO Box 1600, Maroochydore, QLD 4558.

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