Redlands MP Peter Dowling and Bundaberg MP Jack Dempsey before yesterday’s meeting with the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers.
Redlands MP Peter Dowling and Bundaberg MP Jack Dempsey before yesterday’s meeting with the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers. Mike Knott

Flooded transport criticised

MEMBER for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey has likened his hometown to an isolated island in a criticism of the State Government’s management of arterial transport networks.

Mr Dempsey voiced his concerns to Shadow Minister for Flood Recovery Peter Dowling yesterday in a meeting at Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers.

In the aftermath of flooding early last month, Bundaberg was cut off from Brisbane and northern centres which caused a shortage of food, and prevented farmers from transporting their produce to market.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers chairman Geoff Chivers said transport problems rubbed salt in the wounds of farmers who had sustained crop losses and were trying to freight salvaged produce.

“Not being able to transport their crops to market has increased losses to the farming sector and has contributed to the rise in the price of fruit and vegetables,” he said.

“They say we’re the lucky country but here, we have third-rate transport infrastructure unable to maintain the distribution of food and medical supplies to regional cities.”

Mr Dempsey attacked the state government for its management of the region’s three major transport systems, levelling criticism at the road network, railway system and the Bundaberg Port.

“With all our links to the outside world broken it was like we were an island out in the middle of the ocean,” he said.

While Bundaberg Port remains closed, road supply routes to Brisbane and north to Rockhampton and Cairns have been re-established.

Mr Dowling said the state government needed to consider utilising the region’s rail network for distribution of local produce, to ease congestion on roads, and as a failsafe in times of flood and natural disaster.

He also criticised the rehabilitation of Bundaberg Port, claiming the government had been agonisingly slow in cleaning up debris.

“A town’s rail, road and rivers are the primary transport corridors and are the life-giving arteries of the community,” he said.

“When none of these are able to be utilised it can have a devastating effect.”