ONE of Ipswich’s worst intersections will be fixed with the Federal Government committing to fund an upgrade to the Cunningham Highway.
In his third budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison revealed $170 million would go towards improving the dreaded Amberley Interchange.
The project will include a realignment of the highway between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek and an upgrade of the Ipswich-Rosewood Rd.
Expansions and growing military activity at RAAF Base Amberley has put pressure on the interchange.
The $170 million funding injection also comes as the Ipswich City Council considers a proposal from Lantrak to move 1 million tonnes of landfill each year to rehabilitate the New Hope coal mine at Jeebropilly.
According to the application more than 250 heavy vehicles would transit the highway each day.
The government says the Cunningham Highway upgrade will “improve travel reliability and reduce congestion”.
It is expected the Queensland Labor Government will match the funding to start the $340 million project.
Federal Labor MP Shayne Neumann confirmed his party would offer bipartisan support and also commit to fixing the highway in a “major boost for the economic capacity of the Ipswich region”.
“The road takes 2700 heavy vehicle movements a day, and plays a significant role in transporting people and freight between Brisbane and Sydney,” he said.
“These vital upgrades to the Cunningham Highway have long been identified on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List.
“That’s why it’s disappointing the Turnbull LNP Government have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to fund this project.”
Become an entrepreneur
OLDER residents in Ipswich will be encouraged to become entrepreneurs so they can stay in the workforce longer.
The Federal Government will roll out 20 new entrepreneurship facilitators across the regions over the next four years.
Ipswich, along with central Queensland, Ballina and Tweed, will benefit from the program.
The small business experts will teach mature-age people how to start and maintain sustainable businesses.
The Federal Government has set aside $2.7 million in the 2018-19 financial year for the project.
A further $15 million will fund the program until June of 2022.
The government has also committed to continuing the Job Change project that assists mature-age workers to remain in the workforce as retirement and pension ages creep upwards.
Amberley cashes in on Defence spending
RAAF Base Amberley will take a share in millions of dollars in upgrades in the Defence portfolio.
A new Air Traffic Control Radar will be installed at Amberley as part of an estimated $96 million investment in new technology across several bases.
Working accommodation, maintenance, warehousing and training facilities will be built to support the introduction of the Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Capability aircraft.
The project is scheduled for completion by early 2021.
A C-17 maintenance facility, aircraft apron and associated infrastructure will also be constructed.
It is scheduled for completion by early 2019.
Five Ipswich public high schools to get new classrooms
The State Government will commit $250 million over two years in the State Budget to build additional classrooms at more than 60 schools including Bremer, Ipswich State High School, Laidley State High School, Lowood State High School and Springfield.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Jackie Trad, said the ‘2020 Ready’ funding boost would support students in more than 60 Queensland high schools across the State.
“Our kids are our future and, as a government, one of the most important things we can do is give Queensland students a world-class education,” Ms Trad said.
“This investment will deliver more classrooms and learning centres to provide the best possible environment for learning.
“Queensland is a fast-growing State and this investment is about planning for the future.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said in 2020, for the very first time in Queensland’s history, high schools would have a full complement of students across Years 7 to 12.
“This infrastructure program is about making sure we are ‘2020 Ready’,” Ms Grace said.
“This $250 million investment will ensure our schools can accommodate the additional 17,000 students expected in our high schools from 2020 and into the future.
“It brings the total funding commitment towards increasing the capacity of state secondary schools to more than $470 million between 2017-18 and 2019-20.”
Ms Grace said the ‘2020 Ready’ program signals the next phase of Queensland’s major education reforms, which started more than a decade ago.
“Queensland’s first intake of Preppies were those whose birthdays were in the first half of the calendar year – so theirs has always been a much smaller cohort of students, known as the ‘half cohort’,” she said.
“Our next educational reform came in 2015, when we moved Year 7 into high school and established six years of secondary education, which was also supported with significant infrastructure investment.
“However, our smaller ‘half cohort’ has been in high school since 2015 too – meaning we have never had the full complement of students across all six year levels in our secondary schools.
“With the original Prep students set to graduate from high school at the end of 2019, we will have – for the very first time – six full year levels of students in Queensland secondary schools from 2020.
“This new $250 million investment for additional classrooms will prepare those schools identified as requiring additional capacity for the additional students expected in 2020.”
Life-saving helipad opens at Ipswich Hospital
A new helipad at Ipswich Hospital that will allow critically ill patients to receive life-saving care quicker has welcomed its first air ambulance.
The £250,000 facility has officially opened next to A&E on the site of the former Bridge School and has been fully funded by the HELP Appeal charity.
The helipad will enable air ambulance teams to transfer patients to the emergency room at Ipswich Hospital or other specialist centres much faster.
Previously, it took up to 15 minutes to reach A&E from the hospital’s old landing spot in the field of Copleston High School.
The facility also has built-in lighting, which means helicopters can land in the hours of the darkness for the first time.
Dr Neil Berry, consultant anaesthetist at Ipswich Hospital and East Anglian Air Ambulance, spearheaded the project.
“This goes back a few years now when I heard Nick Hulme, our chief exec, was thinking about purchasing this land where the school was,” he said.
“I had been pestering him for a helipad so I went and pestered him again and to Nick’s great credit he is always listening and from then on it’s been made to happen.”
He added: “You can never pin anything on one piece of equipment or one person but I actually believe that this will save lives in the future.
“Minutes sometimes do matter and I will be very surprised if we can’t attribute those minutes to this helipad and the saving of lives in the future.
“It’s a proud moment for both Ipswich Hospital and the air ambulance. It’s a nice feeling to see we are always progressing and it’s nice to think patients are going to get the timely treatment that they need.”
Ipswich Hospital boss Nick Hulme said this was a great example of charities helping to support the NHS with improvements that “frankly we can’t afford to do ourselves”.
He added: “This is one of the only helipads in the East of England that has completely unrestricted landing so it can land at any time night or day and therefore we can open the A&E department for critically ill patients who need to be seen in that golden hour – that first hour after a stroke or major trauma.”
Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal, said this was the 21st helipad the charity had funded.
Australia’s largest solar farm planned near Ipswich
Somerset already hosts a number of energy projects including hydroelectric plants at Wivenhoe Dam and Splityard Creek Dam.Contributed
AUSTRALIA’S largest solar farm has been proposed for a rural site near Ipswich.
The proposed plant, east of Harlin along the D’Aguilar Highway, would have final capacity of 1,500 megawatts, six times larger than its closest rival.
Plans include two substations and the capacity to hire to 60 people.
The Sunraysia solar farm in NSW is Australia’s largest under construction, at 250 megawatts.
Other Australian solar farms of up to 1,000 megawatts have been proposed.
Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was a complex development application from Ethos Urban planning consultants.
The company has been involved in other large infrastructure projects throughout Australia, on behalf of Sunshine Energy Australia Pty Ltd.
“We understand the attractions of the site include its proximity to the existing high voltage power network and proximity to Brisbane,” Cr Lehmann said.
“The site has been largely cleared in the past and is within one hour of the 570 MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant at Splityard Creek which is also in the Somerset Regional Council area.
“The development application includes two substations, facilities for up to 60 employees and provision for battery storage.”
“The application has been referred to various government departments and agencies for their input and we will carefully assess it against our planning scheme like any other proposal.”
Somerset Regional Council is reviewing the application.