QUEENSLAND STATE ELECTION:
Two giant infrastructure projects – the scale of which Australia has never witnesses before – frame the centrepiece of the United Australia Party’s manifesto for the Queensland state election on October 31.
And senior political analysts believe the projects will give the party run by self-proclaimed billionaire Clive Palmer (below right) a serious tilt at government in its own right rather than just being an irritant influencer meddling for a LNP win.
The two breathtakingly audacious projects are:
- Replacing the state’s embarrassingly narrow 3ft 6in rail gauge with the world-standard four foot, eight-and-a-half inch network; and
- Moving the Great Dividing Range much further west to protect much of lowland eastern Queensland from record rainfalls predicted with the return of the La Niña climate pattern.
“Either of these projects will make the Snowy Mountains Scheme look like one of the bob-a-jobs I did as a cubs schoolboy in my home town of the Gold Coast in the early 60s,” the brash businessman boasted in an exclusive interview with The Bug overnight.
“Moving the Queensland rail network to the standard gauge is a gimme, really.
“Do you know how many times I’ve been embarrassed while overseas when high-powered business folk laugh in my face as they ask: do you really have those funny little train lines all over your state?
“They say things like ‘Do you have to duck your head to get into the carriages?’ And “if they have sleeper cabins, do your feet stick out the windows?’.
“And while I’m no supporter of Queensland’s bid for the Olympics, people who are should remember that no city has ever hosted unless it has a rail gauge that is standard or even larger.”
Mr Palmer said moving the Great Dividing Range west – his plan is for about 200km – was also a no-brainer.
“We’ve all seen the dreadful damage floods have caused in places such as my home towns of Townsville and Bundaberg in recent years and the devastating stock losses in cattle country up in the Gulf Country where I was raised.
“It’s just logical that with increased rainfalls, floods will be mitigated if there’s a much larger coastal plain for them to fall on!”
Mr Palmer said both projects would create millions of fulltime jobs for many years to come and he promised the projects’ costs would be released well before booths close at 6pm on election day.
He admitted that a standard-gauge railway line in the Bowen Basin would make shipment of coal to port more economical from his Waratah mine projects, which he expected to be approved as soon as the “UAP under Premier Dishh….sorry, I mean … Greg Dowling takes control of Parliament in my home-town of Brisbane”.
Palmer also admitted, with a hearty chuckle, that he had heard of mineral exploration companies who were interested in finding out what lies under the Great Dividing Range in its current position.
AT TOP: Clive Palmer eyes off Queensland’s highest peak, Mount Bartle Frere, which will be moved to near Mount Isa.