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Revised case to be made for range crossing project

The man pushed aside to make room for troubled LNP figure Michael Caltabiano will announce a revised business case for Queensland's $1.5 billion Second Range Crossing project next month.

The Toowoomba project has been developed in several models for several years and is now high on the Queensland government's submission to Infrastructure Australia.

It involves a 42 kilometre bypass road running to the north of Toowoomba City, with a short tunnel to provide major freight savings by making it faster and safer to get over the Great Dividing Range.

David Stewart was the director-general of the Department of Transport and Main Roads before the March state 2012 election.

Mr Stewart is now in charge of Projects Queensland, within Queensland Treasury, overseen by Mr Nicholls.

Mr Stewart was replaced by Premier Campbell Newman in March and Mr Caltabiano was appointed in his place as director-general of the department.


In turn, Mr Caltabiano was stood aside by Transport Minister Scott Emerson on full pay last month to investigate information he gave to state government estimates hearings over Ben Gommers' appointment to his office.

Mr Gommers is the son of Arts Minister Ros Bates.

Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the Queensland government wanted help from the federal government to fund the Second Range Crossing project to build a safer freight route.

"This government is keen to do what we can to make it happen," Mr Nicholls said.

"To do that we are redesigning what we think ought to be the appropriate outcome for the range crossing to make it affordable, to make it deliverable," he said.

"And to remove the excuse that it is too expensive."

Different engineering solutions, rather than a different route, were being considered, Mr Nicholls said.

"Different engineering solutions and different outcomes," he said.

"To have a simpler, effective range crossing that will remove a lot of that traffic that currently goes through the middle of Toowoomba."

In his speech Wednesday to the Queensland Business Forum, held by the Institute of Charted Accountants, Mr Nicholls concentrated on liquefied natural gas in Australia and shale gas in the United States.

He barely mentioned uranium, despite the state government last month overturning the uranium mining ban in a surprise announcement last month.

Mr Nicholls said it would be up to the private sector to judge if there was value in exporting uranium.

He accepted that Japan would cut its nuclear industry after the earthquake and tsunami last year.

Mr Nicholls said there were potential markets in China and India.

"We know that the Chinese are actively pursuing an expansionary nuclear industry in terms of power generation," he said.

"What we are simply doing here in Queensland is saying that subject to all the stringent safeguards and controls to be put in place, it will be up to private industry to find a place for it."

Mr Nicholls said he supported the decision to end the uranium ban when it was discussed in cabinet.


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