Urgent audit of Flinders Highway to prepare for renewable energy and critical mineral boom

17th November 2023

Townsville Enterprise attended Queensland Parliament this week to call for a full infrastructure audit of the Flinders Highway to make sure it can meet the high-load demands that will come from the growth in critical minerals, refining and renewable projects in North and North West Queensland.

The expected growth in freight demand created by the development of Copperstring, new wind and solar projects, new critical mineral mining developments and the influx of new critical mineral refining projects around Townsville will see huge demands placed on the Flinders Highway corridor. These billion dollar developments may be jeopardised by the inadequate state of this highway.

A  report released by the Gratton Institute this week has highlighted the funding deficit for regional and remote council roads and shows a stark disparity in funding directed at key freight routes in North and West Queensland compared to the cities.

The report noted that a bigger 'bang for the buck' would be achieved by cancelling megaprojects in the cities and redirecting the funding to the regions.

Townsville Enterprise CEO Claudia Brumme-Smith joined Townsville City Council Mayor Cr Jenny Hill, and Katter’s Australian Party leader and Traeger MP, Robbie Katter in a press conference yesterday to call for urgent prioritisation of the Flinders Highway corridor upgrades.

Townsville Enterprise CEO Claudia Brumme-Smith says Flinders Highway upgrades will be required to meet the expected massive expansion of critical mining activity, Copperstring and renewable energy projects looming on the horizon.

"The Flinders Highway is one of the most important national economic freight routes in the country and it doesn’t make the infrastructure priority list of the State and Federal government. Carrying the goods and minerals to the Port of Townsville and supporting industries that contribute almost $6 billion to our nation’s GDP every year," Ms Brumme-Smith said.

"In the coming years, this highway will be the most important green energy and critical mineral route in the country, carrying the wind turbines, solar panels, transmission tower components and critical minerals that will drive our green industrial future."

“The highway needs to be fit for purpose to deliver the largest private and public infrastructure spend ever in our region. We know that, in its current state, the highway cannot do that.

"For our region to realise the incredible green energy and critical mineral opportunity in front of us, we need a strong infrastructure spine that will enable this. The Queensland Government’s investment in Copperstring will need to be backed up with an efficient national highway supporting these new industries. Given the economic contribution this highway makes to our nation, it deserves to be looked after."

Townsville Enterprise would like to thank Minister for Transport and Main Roads Hon Mark Bailey for taking the time to meet and discuss the Flinders Highway. Hon Bailey has agreed to look into the infrastructure audit.  

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