In a podcast interview (see above), Queensland State Liberal National Party (LNP) Member of Parliament for Pumicestone, Simone Wilson outlined how dangerous the Bribie Island Road and bridge are.
When asked what would happen if the one-and-only Bribie Island bridge was to be “taken out” (during an emergency), Ms Wilson said it would mean “mass isolation”.
“It’s mass isolation,” Ms Wilson said in the podcast interview above.
“That is the only way I can put it.
“We’re basically a deserted island, and I don’t want to create fear in people, but that’s the be all and the end all of the matter.
“We will be isolated.
“Yes we do have emergency disaster management plans in place, however, we shouldn’t need emergency disaster managements in place.
“We should have roads that we should be able to use without any question or hesitation and any fear of.”
Further, Ms Wilson outlined the many issues with Bribie Island Road, from the Bruce Highway to the island. Including the dangers around the Old Toorbul Point Road intersection.
A public forum has been called, for further details, listen to the podcast and see the information below.
Andrew: Thank you very much for your company.
Look, Simone Wilson, she’s the Queensland State Parliamentary member for Pumicestone, she’s also on the LNP side, or Liberal National Party side. We have her on the line.
Simone Wilson, how are you?
Simone Wilson: I’m very well, Andrew. Thanks for having me on.
Andrew: Simone Wilson, look, thank you very much for your time with our listeners.
First and foremost, we are going to be talking about the Bribie Island Bridge and the road to Bribie Island, particularly from the Bruce Highway over to the island and everything else in between. It’s been a hot subject, well, really for many years, but it’s coming to a boiling point now.
But before we get into that, just a little bit about you, Simone. How long you been elected for?
Simone Wilson: This is my first term in government, so a little over a year I’ve been fortunate to be the State Member for Pumicestone, a community which I and my family have lived in for the last 17 years.
Andrew: Wow, the last 17 years, so you probably have seen the trials and tribulations of that Bribie Island Road and the bridge over the years, but you’ve spent all of that time over on Bribie. What did you do before you got elected?
Simone Wilson: I used to work in finance and real estate.
Andrew: So with the real estate, was that over on the island?
Simone Wilson: No, no, that was down in Brisbane.
Andrew: So you would’ve been traversing, then, backwards and forwards. Let’s talk about the road. Over the 17 years, what have you seen?
Simone Wilson: Look, the road has not progressed. It has not progressed over the last 17 years that I’ve seen. We’ve seen a few little cosmetic twists with new sets of traffic lights, but when we’re looking at the whole Bribie Island Road and the Bribie Island Bridge, we need to have a complete upgrade.
Because, at the moment, it is a challenge and unless we start to invest some money and start to plan for our future now and not in the next 10, 15 years, we’re going to see a lot of major accidents and issues happening here for our community.
Andrew: And these have been issues that have been happening over 17 years, because I used to probably do the opposite to you, as in you’d be driving off the island to go to work, you’d call that home, so you’d be going with the flow of the traffic. There was a time where I’d be going against the flow of the traffic and heading over onto Bribie in the morning, heading away from Bribie in the afternoon.
I remember quite distinctly over the years when I was doing that thinking, “Gee, thank goodness I’m going against the traffic right now because that looks horrible on the other side.” Is that a fair description of what was going on?
Simone Wilson: Oh, most certainly, Andrew. And look, just to clarify, prior to moving onto the island four years ago, my family lived at Ningi on acreage and we used to come out of [Aylward Road 00:02:52] intersection where there are not now lights, and we would see a constant amount of traffic going on and off the island and through the Ningi stretch, which is a dual carriageway stretch, increasing in congestion every day. When you’ve got young children trying to get across Bribie Island Road to catch their buses to school, it’s really, really scary.
That’s one big issue we’re facing through the Ningi stretch where you’re seeing young children being dragged across a 60 kilometre an hour section to catch the bus over to Bribie state schools and primary schools, and I have many residents contact me about their concerns. But to see it for yourself, it’s absolutely terrifying as a mother.
Andrew: So, Simone, you’ve identified Ningi. Now, a couple of the issues that come to my mind, you’ve got St Michael’s College and you’ve got the entry exit onto Bribie Island Road there. You’ve got a couple of entry exits from Beachmere onto Bribie Island Road as well, as you pointed out Ningi, then you’ve got the bridge itself.
Can you just take us through the issues one by one? Maybe we’ll start from the Bruce Highway and move our way to Bribie Island, just to give people a full picture of what’s going on here.
Simone Wilson: Yeah, most certainly. You have the Hickey’s Road to Saint Road intersection, which is known basically as the goat track. It’s a single carriageway that bears the brunt of the traffic most days. In between Saint and Hickey Road you have Old Toorbul Point Road intersection.
Now, this intersection is getting busier and busier. Yes we do have a primary school and a daycare centre up there, but many people who work on the Sunshine Coast use Old Toorbul Point Road to access the Bruce Highway. I have seen and I have almost been in massive accidents there at that intersection myself with people who are just frustrated waiting to cross onto Bribie Island Road, running the gauntlet and racing out in front of you. And I’ll tell you what, to have to slam your brakes on with a car full of kids is just the most horrific and terrifying thing anybody goes through.
So that intersection there is a key priority for me to have fixed now. There’s $20 million sitting in Canberra, waiting for the State Government to sign off, that should’ve been on the ground back in July last year to get that intersection upgraded, and that’s what I’m calling on this State Government to pick up the pen, sign the documents needed, do the procedural work they need to do to get that money here in Pumicestone and get that upgrade happening at Old Toorbul Point Road.
Andrew: So if that money had been allocated and agreed to and the State Government had done, in your view, what you expected them to do, would that be a safer intersection now? Would it be in progress? Where would we be?
Simone Wilson: Currently, and if you look at [Q Trip 00:05:51], currently, from my understanding, the planning section for Old Toorbul Point Road, and the government does have money on the table to fix that intersection, but, look, it’s not until the 2019/20 financial year, so the financial year coming for them to invest or start to invest some money in that intersection. There is $20 million sitting in Canberra that should’ve been brought on line in July of last year which would’ve fast-tracked having that intersection upgraded.
To be realistic, they should’ve been digging the soil to put the set of the traffic lights in there in December and January at the start of this year. So the kids and anybody that utilises Old Toorbul Point Road could’ve had safe passage.
Still, to this day, that money is still sitting in Canberra-
Andrew: Do you know why?
Simone Wilson: … just waiting. Do I know why?
Simone Wilson: The interesting thing is, Senator James McGrath, during the Senate Estimates hearing a couple of weeks ago, asked the question to government officials regarding this project, and this is the question that Senator James McGrath asked.
“The project cannot proceed until Minister Bailey and the Queensland Government agree to add the project to the Queensland Schedule of the National Partnership Agreement, and until the Department of Transport and Main Roads provides a project proposal report seeking funding approval from the Federal Government.” And then the answer came back from the department officials, “That’s correct.”
So, taking from that, the Federal Government has done their part. All they’re waiting on is the Queensland Government to add this project to the National Partnership Agreement and have the Department of Main Roads and Transport provide a proposal report seeking funding approval. It’s that simple. Get it done. Start putting community of Pumicestone first.
Andrew: Simone, let’s look at the bridge a little bit later, but we’re looking at the intersection is predominantly under strain because there’s a school there. The school’s been there for quite sometime, there’s also other traffic movements that are becoming more and more each day. But just from the Bruce Highway to the bridge, in your view, what is the best solution all the way through to fix it?
Simone Wilson: Look, we have to start planning for the future. That is the first thing. We need to get money now on the ground planning for the whole of Bribie Island Road, and that includes the bridge, because we cannot afford to wait another 10 years for anything to happen.
We’ve seen and we continue to see development occur throughout Ningi, Bribie Island, Sandstone Point, Godwin Beach. That won’t stop. We have new lifestyle resorts or retirement villages which are seeing children come up and visit their parents on weekends. We have fantastic tourism opportunity. All you’ve got to do is look around Bribie Island and our surrounding areas at Sandstone Point and see the beautiful beaches we have on offer and our beautiful Pumicestone passage for family and day trippers to come and enjoy.
So it’s important that money is placed into planning, firstly, and we start to get the planning done, and then from that planning stage, we start then to move into the design phase, and we also need to be saving money and putting that money aside and getting the road upgraded.
This is going to cost a lot of money, yes, I know, and I know the community’s aware it’s going to cost a lot of money, but there is no forward planning at this point in time and money being put aside for the planning and design phase which needs to start commencing now, not in 10 years time.
Andrew: Now, Simone, for those people that are heading back from work this afternoon, or on the weekend the locals that are getting absolutely jammed up in the traffic delays and congestion, talking about just planning now, what do you tel them? If serious planning starts now, when will they actually start seeing some sort of improvements?
Simone Wilson: And this is it. Unfortunately, I’m not in government, I don’t know where the current government is going with it. It appears that planning can take 12 to 18 months to get done. I’m calling on them now to start this planning work for the whole of Bribie Island Bridge so we’re not waiting another 10 years for them to even commence that, because they could say in the 10 years time, “Oh, we might start planning.” We need to start planning to get [crosstalk 00:10:41]
Andrew: Talking about the Bribie Island Bridge-
Simone Wilson: … [crosstalk 00:10:44] planning straightaway.
Andrew: … there has been reports done for the Bribie Island Bridge.
Simone Wilson: That needs to commence and then start moving forward, getting the money there, putting aside, so that we do in, say, the next five to 10 years have the full upgrade of Bribie Island Road and the bridge.
Andrew: Well, the bridge, there have been reports done in relation to the bridge. Can you tell us where that’s at this stage?
Simone Wilson: There was reports done back in 2014. Since then, nothing has progressed. And the thing is, back in 2014, which is five years ago, this place has changed dramatically, so we need to ensure that money is now put into doing a new planning study for Bribie Island Bridge, because as you would be aware, we see quite a few accidents occur there and we had one only a month, six weeks ago that was unfortunately a four-car pile up that saw the bridge down for over two hours. Myself and a lot of other people who live on the island, even just to move from one side of the island to the other took over an hour because of the congestion that occurred due to this accident.
We’ve seen bush fires occur here. The amount of emergency services that utilise the road because of the community that lives on Bribie Island themselves and the surrounding areas are ageing, we need to ensure that when they need to get to an accident, or when they need to get to a person in need, they can get there quickly to ensure that no one’s life is put at risk.
Andrew: Simone, look, we’ve run two scientific polls. One of them we ran on Facebook. Our question was: There’s a federal election looming. Should the federal government commit money to a second bridge and upgrading the road to it from the Bruce Highway, considering this infrastructure is under demand by a combination of local, state and interstate people? Now, 76% of people on that particular poll came back and said yes.
Then we ran another poll out on our website, trueAU.com. In that, 66 people said yes, so 10% said no. We also had some other questions in on that. One of those was the State Government should pay for it in its entirety. 20% said yes to that, and the remainder, 4%, 24 of them, said I don’t care. I’m here with popcorn to watch.
Look, we run quite a few polls and this poll really has gone off. It’s got the attention of not just locals, but people that are affected by the bridge for one reason or another. It just sounds like if it’s going to get bogged down in planning …
And there’s some big differences with this bridge, because at the moment you’d be aware that there’s been some conversation in the media recently around Youngs Crossing and the upgrade of that, and that did come up when we polled. People say, no, no, that should be done first.
But there’s a huge big difference, isn’t there? People can drive around Youngs Crossing if something happens. What happens if that bridge is taken out going between Bribie Island and the mainland?
Simone Wilson: It’s mass isolation. That is the only way I can put it. We’re basically a deserted island, and I don’t want to create fear in people, but that’s the be all and the end all of the matter. We will be isolated.
Yes we do have emergency disaster management plans in place, however, we shouldn’t need emergency disaster managements in place. We should have roads that we should be able to use without any question or hesitation and any fear of.
Going back to your poll, briefly, what people need to be aware of, this is a State Government road. The State Government is in charge of maintaining and improving Bribie Island Road and Bribie Island Bridge. This has always been the case. Unfortunately, we’ve seen governments not invest in infrastructure for many, many years within our region, and this is why we’re seeing this happen now.
As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the Federal Government, they’ve done their part. They didn’t have to give us $20 million, and they have, and it has been beckoning, waiting for the State Government here in Queensland to sign off documents, which is so shameful, since July of last year.
People’s lives could be lost unless the State Government commences the infrastructure improvements we need here in the Pumicestone electorate, and that’s what I’m calling on Minister Bailey and the Government to start investing in the Pumicestone road network’s future. We love tourism and I know the State Government loves tourism, well here is a tourism little mecca that needs cash injection from them to fix our road infrastructure.
Andrew: Simone Wilson, you’ve got a public forum coming up. Can you tell us about it?
Simone Wilson: Yes, I certainly do have a public forum. This forum is an opportunity for the public to hear from their elected officials on this important issue for our region. It’s an opportunity for our residents to voice their concerns, ideas and hopes about Bribie Island Road and the bridge, and to have the government hear their voices.
This is occurring on Sunday the 17th of March, St. Patrick’s Day, for those who may not have been aware, at 10:30 at the corner of Sylvan Beach Esplanade and Benabrow Avenue just off the Bribie Island Bridge. I will be joined by Tim Mander, the Deputy Leader of the opposition, Steve Minnikan who is our Shadow Transport Minister, and I’ve also invited local representatives and Federal Government representatives, and I’ve also invited the State Minister for Transport, Mark Bailey, and I hope he finds some time to come along and listen to the community’s concerns here.
Andrew: Yeah, look, also, 4OUR 101.5FM, that’s the local radio station that broadcasts across the Moreton Bay region, they’ll be there lending some technical support and that to make sure that this forum goes smoothly.
But Simon Wilson, you have been engaging with the community for quite sometime over this, definitely since you’ve been elected and no doubt this has been the centre of many conversations well and truly before you were elected. You have a website in relation to this. Can you tell us about it?
Simone Wilson: Yes, I certainly do. The website, and I encourage everybody to get online and sign the petition and it’s very, very easy. It’s just fixbribieislandroad.com.au, because we need the government to hear our voices, and you don’t have to live in the electorate to sign onto this petition. Anybody that comes out to anywhere within Pumicestone, I encourage you to get online and get onto fixbribieislandroad.com.au and put your name to helping us achieve safety improvements and upgrades to Bribie Island Road and Bribie Island Bridge.
Andrew: Simone Wilson, again, thank you very much for spending time with our listeners.
Simone Wilson: Thank you so much, Andrew, and I hope to see you all there.