Anger over minister's road snub
“DISGUSTED” and “disappointed” were just a couple of the words thrown around at yesterday's council meeting to describe the Federal Government's response to a letter regarding the Eight Mile.
Southern Downs Regional Council chief executive Rod Ferguson sent a letter inviting Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese and department secretary Mike Mrdak to visit the area to discuss the treacherous stretch of road.
But councillors were reeling after neither the minister or secretary were able to spare enough time to muster a response.
Instead the reply came from Roland Pittar, departmental general manager of North West Roads.
Mr Pittar advised that due to their busy schedules, neither Mr Albanese nor a representative would be able to accept the invitation to visit the black spot.
Mayor Ron Bellingham expressed his “extreme disappointment” at the response.
“The fact they feel we can be palmed off with such a reply has simply made me angry,” he said.
“And I am sure it will make the community angry – we need to pursue it.”
He criticised the government's lack of responsibility for what is a federal road.
“The history, in my view, has demonstrated the inefficiency in our system of government,” he said.
“This seems to continuous buck passing between state and federal.
“It was relatively small amount of funding to make (an overpass) happen, and we now need to pursue this directly with the federal minister.”
Cr Bellingham said the next move would be to send another letter to Minister Albanese detailing his disappointment.
Other councillors chimed in with the same degree of disdain for the minister's lack of response.
Cr Jo McNally said “dissatisfied” didn't even come close to describing how she felt about the minister's inability to personally respond to the council's invitation.
“We have to bombard them and keep at it until we can get Minister Albanese to speak to us,” she told the meeting.
Cr Cameron Gow also said he was disgusted and agreed more pressure to needed to be put on the Federal Government.
“I am happy to endorse any and all action to progress this issue,” Cr Gow said.
“We should be and we need to up the ante in the language we use.
“It is regarded as the worst black spot in our region? Have people been killed there? Yes.”
A spokesman for Minister Albanese last night disagreed that our council had been snubbed, questioning why Cr Bellingham had not put his own personal signature to the letter.
“It's standard practice that if we receive a letter from a senior bureaucrat that we have one of our own senior officers reply,” the spokesman said.