Coalition increases northern Australian roads funding
WA, NT and Qld get investment boost under the northern roads and beef roads schemes
Northern Australia will soon receive a fresh injection of funds with the federal government committing a total of nearly $300 million to key road projects across Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
The Coalition is planning to invest $200 million under the Northern Australia Roads Programme (NARP), including more than:
- $175 million in Western Australia
- $80 million in Queensland
- $32 million in Northern Territory
Additionally, the federal government will invest $100 million under the Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme, including:
- $12.51 million in WA
- $30 million in NT
The news comes after transport and infrastructure minister Darren Chester announced a $56 million package for Queensland yesterday.
"The beef roads and NARP programmes will support economic development in the north by funding targeted upgrades on key roads necessary for transporting cattle – improving the resilience of cattle supply chains, improving safety, and reducing travel times, vehicle operating and maintenance costs," Chester says.
Speaking about the NARP funding for WA, the minister says the new funding "builds on the almost $90 million previously committed under the NARP totalling $177.78 million.
"The Bow River Bridge project will involve replacing the existing single-lane bridge with a new two-lane bridge, reducing the need for heavy vehicles to come to a complete stop for oncoming traffic, saving fuel and time.
"Works will also be undertaken to reconstruct the Broome to Cape Leveque Road. This project will help improve road safety on the main transport link through the Dampier Peninsula.
"This investment helps improve safety for all road users, ensures the viability of rural industries, and increase access for communities by reducing the impacts of floods and seasonal road closures.
"This investment will also complement the previously announced upgrades to sections of the Great Northern Highway at Wyndham Spur and Maggies Jump Up and improve the overall reliability of the Highway for not only the cattle industry but indeed broader road users."
Key projects for Queensland include:
- Bowen Developmental Road: progressive sealing;
- Landsborough Highway (Longreach-Winton): Pavement widening and strengthening of around 24 kilometres;
- Peak Downs Highway (Clermont-Nebo): Logan Creek to Nine Mile Creek-Pavement widening and strengthening; and
- Bajool-Port Alma Road: upgrades to the port access road.
The $32 million funding for NT will be used to upgrade Buntine Highway, with works including sealing some of the unsealed sections of the highway and some flood immunity improvements.
"The poor condition of the Buntine Highway and limited year-round heavy vehicle access significantly impacts on the Territory's key industries and the delivery of important services," resources and northern Australia minister Matthew Canavan says.
"Residents along the Highway and surrounding areas also rely on the Buntine Highway for access to essential services in both Katherine and Darwin."
Canavan says the aim of NARP was to fund priority projects that will support economic development in the region.
"We have a unique opportunity to develop the north, especially thanks to the strong growth we are seeing in Asia," he says.
"Our investments in northern roads will help cut down the costs of getting goods to overseas markets and help us take advantage of these opportunities."
So far the government has committed a total of nearly $700 million under the NARP and the beef roads schemes.
Canavan says thanks to the beef roads funding, the cattle industry is be the "big winner".
He asserts that the road infrastructure improvements "will also provide benefits to all road users, including other agricultural industries and the freight sector more broadly".
Chester says the Beef Roads programme "recognises moving cattle from the farm gate to market involves some of the longest and most challenging land transport distances of any industry, anywhere in the world".