Community fights plan

Thousands sign petition in opposition to proposed TMR route

By Sonia Isaacs

A groundswell of community opposition to a proposed Bruce Highway Western Alternative (BHWA) route set to impact hundreds of Elimbah, Caboolture and Moodlu residents, is gaining remarkable traction. In only a matter of weeks, a well-executed grassroots campaign has secured support from 5,000 concerned petitioner’s.
Following the shock announcement by Department of Transport and Main Roads in the weeks leading up to Christmas that up to 120 homes could be potentially resumed if the BHWA stage 4 route options go ahead, local residents have been working tirelessly around the clock to galvanise the community to present a unified show of strength rejecting the TMR proposal ahead of the February 9 community consultation cut-off date.
Alongside launching the parliamentary petition in mid-December, principal petitioner, Jason Smith, said he was pleased to see the community rallying together to provide a strategic and pragmatic response to fight the proposal. He said the focus was now on obtaining between 6,000-10,000 signatures before the petition closure in February.
A goal of lodging up to 1000 written community submissions outlining concerns surrounding current routes and suggested alternative options was also on the table.
Mr Smith said one of the key focuses in TMR selecting the current options was the assumption that all land east of the rail line will be residential and houses.
“There are a number of generational farms on the east side of railway line at Elimbah that we know people will not be willing to sell. We are also concerned that no budget has been allocated for resumptions and that compensation won’t occur in an adequate or timely manner,” Mr Smith said.
A public Facebook group established as a community information and sharing platform for people impacted or opposed to the current Stage 4 route options has already amassed 1.9K members.
Mr Smith said the Facebook group continued to grow, and members were now looking to broaden the message by approaching and including other interest groups that utilised the area including mountain bikers and walking groups, as well as engaging conservation groups around potential environmental impact concerns.
A working group of representative residents is looking to have a consultation session with TMR towards the end of January where they hope to discuss more desirable options for the community. Mr Smith said the group was calling for an alternative route that went further to the West and provided well-balanced and long term regional growth options.
He said judging by the response of gaining nearly 600 petition signatures at the group’s first ever weekly Caboolture market event on January 7 to raise awareness of the issue, it was apparent community sentiment strongly opposed the current TMR proposal.
“The community will continue to make noise and ensure that we are heard by TMR and the government on this issue. We’ve seen a huge unification of the community in response to this proposal and we are determined to continue to raise awareness and fight back in an objective and pragmatic way to make a difference,” Mr Smith said.