South east tollway opposed
By Dave Riley
BRISBANE — More than 7000 people rallied in the Daisy Hill State Forest on July 31 to protest the state Labor government's plan to forge a new road link between Brisbane and the Gold Coast through a state forest and new residential suburbs on the city's eastern border. The rally was the culmination of a four-year campaign led by local residents and supporters.
In an attempt to divide the local community along NIMBY lines, the Department of Transport recently announced three optional routes for the road, each with varying environmental impacts. To rousing cheers, rally organiser, David Keogh told the crows "We won't be divided by the government. This is not about sticking a freeway in someone else's backyard because we don't like it".
The rally unanimously endorsed a motion calling on the state government to upgrade the already existing Pacific Highway transit corridor.
The local region is one of the fastest-growing areas in south-east Queensland. Many of the new housing estates are still heavily wooded and those nearby butt onto the Daisy Hill Forest, which contains the largest colony of koalas in the country. The president of the Queensland Koala Council told the rally that any route through the forest would impact on their numbers.
Opposition is centred around the local group, Veto, which draws its support from environmental, residential and business groups in the Redlands and Logan City shires. In the lead-up to the rally, the principal of John Paul College — whose playing fields will be dissected by one of the proposed routes — urged all his 2020 pupils to attend.
In the absence of ALP representatives on the platform, the state leader of the Liberal Party, Joan Sheldon, was able to score points against the government. She committed her party to widening the existing road, introducing a transit lane along it, and exploring the option of an express bus lane which would bring down the commuting time between the Logan Hyperdome and the city centre to 20 minutes.
A much broader agenda was addressed by Professor Ian Lowe who spoke of the impact of reliance on the private motor vehicle and called the tollway option "an expensive, dangerous, and wasteful solution".
"We need to think how we can plan this city so it remains habitable ... We don't want this part of Queensland routed any more."
The ground swell of opposition will impact on the state government. The campaign looks like it may threaten to unseat local member and environment minister, Molly Robson. The nearby Redlands Shire and the Labor-controlled Brisbane City Council also oppose the tollway.
All Logan City councillors, bar one, have endorsed the tollway as long as it stays outside their patch.
But the government's problems don't stop there. On Brisbane's north side, local groups are mobilising against freeways being planned there. The recently revealed Department of Transport plans for road complexes has led to the formation of the Coalition for Alternative Transport Strategies (CATS) which draws freeway action, environmental and residential groups together. CATS is calling for the implementation of modern and efficient transport solutions.
Veto is now discussing a further rally in the city centre and CATS have established a hotline. For further information ring CATS on 0055 26 692. Veto can be reached on 208 9141.