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Labor pledges Qld inland freight highway

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is promising to build an inland freight highway linking north Queensland to the NSW border if re-elected.

The Labor leader and Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington are both hitting the hustings in the key state election battleground of Townsville on Wednesday.

Ms Palaszczuk says if she’s re-elected she’ll build a second Bruce Highway parallel to the coastal road between Charters Towers and Mungindi.

“A second Bruce Highway would take trucks off the existing Bruce, making it safer for communities from Gympie to Townsville,” she wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday morning.

“Activating an inland freight route will also reduce travel times, support jobs and increase economic activity.”

Her promise rivals an earlier pledge by the LNP to widen the existing Bruce Highway from two to four lanes for 1450km from Curra to Cairns.

Ms Frecklington’s plan would cost $33 billion over 15 years, with the state chipping in $440 million annually and the federal government expected to cover the rest.

The pair are unlikely to have an awkward rendezvous in the Townsville on Wednesday.

Ms Frecklington is preparing to make her big pledge on law and order in the garrison city, where she says crime is out of control.

It’s expected that the LNP leader will make a major funding promise at a police academy.

Ms Frecklington will then fly north to Cairns to make a second announcement in the afternoon.

Townsville is a key electoral battleground for both major parties with Katter’s Australian Party and One Nation also campaigning heavily.

The city’s three electorates – Townsville, Mundingburra and Thuringowa – are held by Labor MPs with the former two on margins of less than 1.1 per cent.

Ms Palaszczuk received another boost on the eve of her visit with the latest Essential Poll showing she enjoys a 62 per cent approval rating.

She is the third-most-popular premier in the country after Western Australia’s Mark McGowan and NSW’s Gladys Berejiklian, according to the survey.

Ms Palaszczuk will also announce a $500,000 feasibility study for the North Queensland Cowboys’ former stadium to be used by emergency services.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland said on Tuesday 228,000 ballots had been cast in pre-poll voting across the state.

More than 820,000 people have applied to vote by post.

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