Roadside cameras to detect motorists using mobile phones and people not wearing seatbelts will be rolled out permanently in Queensland within weeks.
- It will be illegal for drivers to hold a phone in their hand or have it resting on any part of their body
- Some of the cameras will be mobile
- Forty-three people who died in crashes in 2020 were not wearing a seatbelt
A six-month trial of fixed and portable cameras in secret locations began in July last year.
The state government said during the trial more than 15,000 people were detected illegally using a phone while driving and more than 2,200 people were found not wearing a seatbelt.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the time had arrived for the cameras to be made permanent.
“Some of the cameras will be mobile — and we won’t be telling people where they are either,” he said.
“Drivers should expect to be caught anywhere, anytime, whether they’re driving in the city or on a regional highway.
“We’re really unashamed about this. If you’re risking the lives of other people on the roads, then you deserve an offence, you deserve to be held to account.
“Driving distracted with your mobile phone is the drink driving of this era.”
Mr Bailey said using a phone while driving has the same impact as driving with a blood alcohol reading of between 0.07 and 0.10. – from ABC
Report a camera
Cairns News is establishing a page for camera location reports. When you spot one of these Chinese spy cameras advise us of the location. We will have a link up soon. Editor
A long-awaited report on the condition of the Barron River bridge at Kuranda won’t be released to the public because it is “too technical” according to Transport and Main Roads Department (TMR).
Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter has attacked this bureaucratic double-speak saying motorists had a right to know if the bridge is safe to use and for how the single lane access and weight restrictions will remain.
“Either it is safe, or it is not safe, and it certainly looks like it is not when we get a response like this,” Mr Katter said.
“It’s time for the State Government to build the alternative road to Cairns – the Bridle Track highway. We have given TMR a topographical map of the proposed road and I have discussed this proposal with them and the Federal Government’s Assistant Transport Minister, Scott Buchholz. There is now no alternative.”
Mr Katter will be writing to the Qld Transport Minister, Mark Bailey regarding the Bridge.
“I will demand a copy of the report,” Mr Katter said.
“We are being treated as mugs in North Queensland. The State Government would not be keeping Brisbane residents in the dark like this, and they would be spending money to fix the situation. They are now estimated to spend $7B on Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, meanwhile we are down to one lane at the Kennedy Highway at Kuranda with no action from the State Government in sight.”
Northern News Briefs
Cape York Peninsula. Police are on the look out for an ambulance stolen from Aurukun. It is described in picture:
It is not known if there was a patient in it when stolen. It is believed the vehicle was to be used as an undercover grog runner from Cooktown to keep the community riots running smoothly.
Coen. Four local Aborigines charged with killing a bullock, the property of a local grazier, fronted the Coen Magistrates Court on November 11. All were remanded until January.
Cattle duffing has been rife on the Peninsula for a few years according to a prominent grazier.
He said a mob of weaners recently had been stolen from a property near Weipa and breeder cows were missing from other properties in the Northern Peninsula area.
He said there is a flourishing trade in stolen meat allegedly slaughtered by local inhabitants from roadside killings.
“It is always hard to catch these people and we know who is doing illegal slaughtering but the authorities don’t act on it,” one source claimed.
The unprecedented high price of cattle has made stock stealing quite lucrative and in spite of stock being branded and ear-tagged with NLIS electronic devices, few rustlers ever get caught.
Peninsula Development Road. Road transport companies report the gravel sections of the PDR are in reasonable shape which is unusual for this time of year. One saving grace is the lowest ever number of tourists converging on the Cape due to Covid lockdowns and border closures.
Finding water for gravel maintenance is always a problem at this time of year particularly when the National Parks and Wildlife Service refuses to allow road maintenance crews to take any of the abundant surface water from national parks either from creeks, lagoons or rivers.
Aboriginal-owned land also has plentiful water availability which in some cases can be accessed at a cost to the Main Roads Department.
Truckies report there are several dangerous bitumen sections of recently-constructed highway that could cause a problem for unwary drivers.
Just north of Archer River crossing is a sunken culvert, which began sinking not long after it was put there in 2018. MRD has been aware of the danger spot for nearly two years but nothing has yet been done to fix it.
A dangerous collapsed culvert on the bitumen south of Musgrave has been patched up after being signposted and in disrepair for more than 18 months.
Along the older bitumen section through Wolverton Station, north of Archer River the sub-structure has moved considerably causing severe rippling of the surface for about 500 metres.
Weipa. Rio Tinto’s Andoom mine, situated 10 klm north of Weipa on the Mapoon Road is set to close in three years but it could be sooner if the mining giant does not find new markets for the non-renewable, valuable resource bauxite. Locals will be left with a large hole in the ground albeit rehabilitated somewhere near to its original state.
Bauxite royalty payments from this mine will also cease for the Mapoon community.
Mapoon residents will be disadvantaged because the ailing, Rio-owned road and rail Mission River Bridge over the Weipa Inlet will not be maintained after Andoom closes. This will prevent easy road access to Weipa for the remote community.
In ten years time this bridge will be a rusting navigational hazard and an eyesore.
As a result a new bitumen bypass road has been constructed through the disused, large cattle property Billys Lagoon handed over to local Aborigines about 10 years ago. The cost of the road, believed to be part-funded by the State Government has not been divulged. Earthmoving contractors say it would be more than $10 million.
One contractor not involved in the project said after inspecting the road the bitumen construction was less than industry standard.
from a Weipa correspondent
The fate of a $210 million road construction project near Weipa remains in limbo while protracted negotiations between the Cape York Land Council and the State Government continue behind closed doors.
In spite of tenders being called more than three months ago no contractor has been announced with time running out to complete the Mein Deviation bitumen sealing before the wet season begins.
The Land Council has demanded that an Indigenous Land Use Agreement be registered over a part of the Peninsula Development Road network giving it control of all future road works.
Included in the list of demands is a 1000 per cent increase in royalties paid to indigenous groups for gravel taken from ‘borrow pits’ along the road.
The holding up of road works by the Land Council has not been supported across Cape York Peninsula by some alienated indigenous groups and Traditional Owners who have been left out of initial negotiations.
Cape York Sustainable Futures Deputy Chairman Jack Wilkie-Jans launched a scathing attack against the Land Council claiming it is “divisive and all about segregation.”
Mr Wilkie-Jans is a Traditional Owner from Mapoon on the Western Cape who says “enough is enough.”
“The Land Council is just introducing a tax not a royalty scheme which is an abuse of their position on the PDR that will not benefit Traditional Owners,” Mr Wilkie Jans said.
“I am extremely disappointed in the way the government has laid down and let this (road) project be stopped.
“The Land Council wants to grab control of the PDR because they have filed an ambit claim with nine claimants over all of Cape York not already claimed or decided.
“There would be many more than nine and there is no cultural precedent to surrender governance to different groups.”
He said he could not understand how Noel Pearson( founder of Cape York Partnership) had a monopoly on the only voice heard by government.
“The Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch and Member for Cook Billy Gordon should have a position on the PDR but their silence is inexcusable, damaging and very telling.”
Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey remains hopeful a solution can be found after a closed meeting of indigenous stakeholders to discuss the impasse was rescheduled by the Land Council from July 15 to July 28 and 29 to be held at the Colonial Club Resort in Cairns.
“Indigenous employment, training and business engagement are critical components of the project and we will continue to work closely with the land council, traditional owners and native title applicants to deliver this important project,” Mr Bailey said.
“We hope to announce a tenderer soon for the Mein Deviation, which will upgrade and seal a 29km section of the Peninsula Development Road, north of Coen.”
Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said he had been advised the new ILUA map released by the Land Council had dropped all Cook Shire-controlled roads, with the disputed section now beginning at Laura and terminating at Weipa.
“We have made our position pretty clear and we have been too hard to deal with,” Cr Scott said.
“I spoke to Fiona Simpson (Shadow Main Roads Minister) who said she would take the matter up with the Premier.
“Giving control of this section of the PDR to the Land Council will be a landmine roadblock for northern development,” Cr Scott said.
Shadow Minister Fiona Simpson has expressed dismay that the road works have not yet started.
“The government has put this into the ‘too hard basket’ because it should not be too hard to fix,” she said.
“There are legal mechanisms to deal with native title and there is only a short window of opportunity to deal with it before the wet season.
If the project was not resolved in the near future Ms Simpson said there could be opportunities at the Budget Estimates hearings in August to question the Minister.
The CYLC and Member for Cook Billy Gordon have not responded to requests for comment.
by Robert J Lee
Four wheel drive enthusiasts, pastoralists, transport companies and tourists may soon have to pay a toll to drive on the Peninsula Development Road after the Cape York Land Council this week indicated it would pursue an Indigenous Land Use Agreement over the entire Peninsula Development Road and the Telegraph Track.
Not only has the land council laid down the gauntlet to all Australians, but its move has jeopardised the construction of a $220 million bitumen road upgrade near Weipa.
The Main Roads Department has been struggling for five weeks to deal with an intransigent land council and its representatives, who have demanded extravagant royalties for gravel and prohibited the taking of any water from permanent rivers, dams or springs.
The legality of the road network grab, according to land council sources comes via an ambit land claim (see illustration) placed over the entire Peninsula in December, covering 146,390 square kilometres.
It is the largest single land claim ever lodged in Australian history
When coupled with the 53,990 square kms already determined on the Cape, all land and inland waters of Cape York will be either determined as native title, or under claim.
Cairns News in 2003 was given a copy of a map of the Peninsula that shows a proposed Aboriginal state taking in all land north of the 16th Parallel.
This ambit claim was lodged in December, with nine token claimants, Mike Ross, Silva Blanco, Wayne Butcher (Mayor of Lockhart River), James Creek, Clarry Flinders, Jonathan Korkaktain, Philip Port, Hogan Shortjoe and Reginald Williams.
And when added to the vast areas transferred to Aboriginal ownership under the Aboriginal Land Act 1991 (QLD), all significant activity on the Cape will require the consent of the Traditional Owners.
This includes mining and other major projects.
“This means the Traditional Owners of the Cape will be the real masters of development and use of their lands,” said Riche Ah Mat, Chairman of the Cape York Land Council.
Richie Ahmat, Chairman of the Cape York Land Council and unofficial mouthpiece for Noel Pearson
“Traditional Owners can now reconnect with country, and also ensure we can use our lands so our futures are bright with economic opportunity, not blighted by continued welfare dependence.”
Meanwhile northern pastoralists, development associations, tourist bodies and other affected groups are sharpening their swords to engage the CYLC head on.
This story will be regularly updated – editor