Article – Highway to Prosperity

11 May 2015
Anika Hume
The Cairns Post
CAIRNS transport operators are rejoicing at news the Hann Highway will be upgraded, shaving up to 10 hours off some freight routes.
The announcement came from Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Cairns last Friday, when he said the Northern Australia White Paper would be released next month.
The news ticked off one of the eight key priorities released last August by Advance Cairns, Cairns Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.
Those bodies’ leaders have been long-term advocates for the need to seal the highway’s remaining 90km in light of the Bruce Highway’s continual closure due to flooding.
David Teitzel, head of Portsmith-based distribution agent Freight for You, is happy the upgrade’s White Paper inclusion means it will be built regardless of who is in power.
“Sealing the highway guarantees a pretty much floodproof route to North Queensland, which enables local distribution agents to service their customers better without the angst of knowing there are 15 or 20 semi-trailers waiting on the other side of floodwaters,” he said.
He said those carrying refrigerated food items were the worst hit as supermarkets refused to accept overdue stock.
He said the flow-on impacts of a highway cut on everyday business was also huge, with such an event meaning no work for staff until the road was open and then overtime required to clear 10-15 semi-trailers of loose freight while more orders kept streaming in.
“Upgrading the Hann cuts about 10 hours off the Cairns-to-Melbourne route, so there’s huge savings to be had as far as fuel costs, and the safety aspect of getting all those B-doubles off the Bruce and inland instead is definitely significant,” he said.
“This upgrade will go a long way to solving so many issues.” TTNQ CEO Alex de Waal said securing the Hann Hwy as an inland route was critical for the region.
“It will open a more direct and cost-efficient route to southern markets, and facilitates increased regional tourism,” he said.
“A fully-sealed road will assist in delivering transport for prosperity and reinforces Northern Australia’s connection with the nation as a whole.”Advance Cairns Chairman Trent Twomey said the upgrade was also an integral project to link Northern Australia.
Courtesy of the Cairns Post