Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.
Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien.

‘I will not say those words’: MP breaks ranks on bypass

WIDE Bay MP Llew O'Brien has sensationally broken ranks with the LNP, refusing to endorse the proposed two-lane Tiaro bypass.

Mr Brien said he had been supplied with words to endorse the proposed bypass but, addressing Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack, he wrote "I just will not say those words".

"You see 20 years ago I was one of the first responders to what ended up being a triple fatality on the Cooroy bypass," Mr O'Brien wrote.

"When I arrived at the scene with my partner, it was obvious that two of the people had died instantly from catastrophic injuries and the third was expiring very fast.

"The head-on collision happened on a stretch of road that was relatively straight, with plenty of run-off on the road edges and nothing to obstruct a drivers vision.

"Back then it was a fairly new bypass.

"To the average motorist it looked like a great piece of highway, to me it looked like what it was; a straight piece of bitumen that saw heavy motor vehicles approaching each other at a closing speed of 200 km/h, only to miss each other by feet, tens of thousands of times a day. "A road by its appearance gave people a false sense of so much confidence that it was a deathtrap.

"That section of highway is now dual lanes both north and south with a concrete dividing barrier … and as far as I'm aware fatality free since its upgrade."

Mr O'Brien has been consistent in his push for a four lane Bruce Highway with a concrete diving barrier.


The proposed press release speaking in favour of the Tiaro bypass.
The proposed press release speaking in favour of the Tiaro bypass.

"Eighty kilometres north and 20 years on from that terrible night when lives were cut short and families destroyed, the government is announcing the construction of a brand-new 8km greenfield piece of Bruce Highway to bypass the beautiful little town of Tiaro," he said.

"You'll understand my dismay and disappointment at the plan to build a road much the same as that killer stretch of highway that bypassed Cooroy all those years ago.

"So, Minister Bailey and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, I won't call this current proposal a safety upgrade.

"I will call it what it is because that's what the people of Wide Bay need me to do.

"I didn't do my apprenticeship in the tragedy of life, like so many other emergency service workers, just to go with the flow and recite the political spin when its not true.

"What I will be doing is fighting to get this road upgraded to the standard we see on the Cooroy to Curra upgraded section of Bruce Highway.

"A minimum of four lanes with a dividing barrier.

"The standard that any new section of our national highway should be built to, especially when it's only 200kms from Brisbane in 2020.

"And while I might not succeed in getting the necessary upgrade to this plan that I believe will save lives, I will be able to say I did the right thing and fought my hardest for the road users and families of Wide Bay and Queensland.

"So while they might cut me out of the joint press release, they are seriously underestimating my motivation if they think they'll cut me out of the fight to improve road safety."

The Chronicle is seeking a response from Mr McCormack's office.