FLASHBACK: Roy Emerson, right, with his brother-in-law and fellow tennis great Mal Anderson on the old tennis court at Roy’s former home at Nukku in 2015

July 17, 2019

The South Burnett Regional Council will ask the Department Of Transport and Main Roads to rename a section of the D’Aguilar Highway “Roy Emerson Way”.

The proposal was put to Wednesday’s Council meeting.

It revives an earlier campaign by the Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association (BDTHA) to do the same thing.

BDTHA began a campaign to get a section of the highway between Kevin Allery Bridge in Blackbutt and the north side of the Nukku Bridge renamed in honour of the international tennis star in 2015.

Emerson grew up at Nukku, and has returned to Blackbutt several times in recent years – most recently, in January 2017 for the official unveiling of a statue erected in his honour outside the Roy Emerson Museum.

In 2015, BDHTA lodged an E-petition with State Parliament which attracted 177 signatures.

They followed this soon afterwards with a more traditional 585-signature petition calling on the State Government to rename that part of the highway.

But Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey rejected the request.

In July 2015, in a letter to BDTHA, Minister Bailey said Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) signage policy did not “generally allow the renaming of sections of road, due to possible impacts on residential mailing addresses and the potential for confusing the travelling public”.

Mr Bailey said ensuring that emergency services and travellers who were unfamiliar with the local area could clearly identify and find locations was of particular concern.

“I am therefore advised that TMR would only consider renaming a road in extraordinary circumstances and where the above issues have been satisfactorily addressed, through consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the local government, community, local businesses, emergency services, post and courier services,” he said.

“On that basis, the proposed renaming of this section of the D’Aguilar Highway is not currently supported.”

At Wednesday’s South Burnett Council meeting, Mayor Keith Campbell said he applauded BDTHA for recognising the tourism potential of Roy Emerson’s association with the town.

He also thought that since Emerson had been made a Companion Of The Order Of Australia (AC) in this year’s Australia Day Awards, it was fitting the idea of renaming the strip of highway was revisited.

CEO Mark Pitt told the meeting he was aware concerns had been raised about the effects of renaming part of the highway, but believed these were unfounded.

He said as far as he understood things, any highway addresses would remain the same, which meant there would be no impact on emergency services or postal deliveries.

He understood this had been the case with Steve Irwin Way at the Glasshouse Mountains and Darren Lockyer Way on the Warrego Highway.

The motion to request TMR make the change was moved by Cr Gavin Jones, seconded by Cr Danita Potter, and passed unanimously.

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