NT government hails infrastructure spending


NTRTA fairly happy with new treasurer’s Budget that is said to break record despite GST loss

NT government hails infrastructure spending
Nicole Manison has highlighted transport spending

 

More than one-third of the Northern Territory’s Budget infrastructure spend will be transport-related, treasurer Nicole Manison has pledged.

The Territory government will put $1.75 billion in infrastructure works in 2017‑18, with $733.5 million aimed to upgrade roads and transport infrastructure.

"Our pastoralists and miners, and the people they employ, will all benefit from the $733 million invested to upgrade roads and transport infrastructure in Budget 2017," Manison says in the reading speech to parliament.

Of that figure, said to be the "the Territory’s largest investment in roads and transport infrastructure", $625.6 million will go on roads, airstrips, barge landings and transport access upgrades, including $174.1 million for new projects and $451.4 million for re-voted works.

Confirming chief minister Michael Gunner’s flagging of the project, work will begin on a Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub.

"This project will be master planned led by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics with funding to be determined once the planning is in place," Gunner said last week.

"Katherine region is one of the Territory’s brightest economic hotspots with international interest in agribusiness from soya beans through to the regions historical cattle industry."

Gunner has also raised the prospect of a $1.6 million heavy vehicle crossover being built in the town, allowed by the fire station relocation.

The town is also slated to see new high-level bridges over Little Horse and Big Horse creeks at $33.7 million.

In Darwin, $9.6 million is aimed at the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program (HVSPP) Round 5 involving a hardstand for road trains and new test facility.

Major road spending items includes:

  • $78 million to continue Arnhem Highway upgrade
  • $57 million to continue Keep River Plains Road upgrades
  • $40 million on the Buntine Highway
  • $31 million on the Plenty Highway
  • $25 million on the Tablelands Highway upgrade
  • $12.5 million on the Barkley Stock Route
  • $10 million on the Tjukaruru Road upgrade
  • $3.5 million on Lasseter Highway pavement and seal widening (HVSPP).
  • $1.5 on safe parking at the South Alligator River Roadhouse (HVSPP).

Repairs and maintenance comes in at $108 million.

Under the National Partnerships Program agreements, the Territory gains a $201.2 million in capital funding for road projects under the federal Infrastructure Investment Program and Infrastructure Growth  Package, with offsets elsewhere.

The NT Budget comes with a backdrop of falling Goods and Services Tax revenue, projected to be down by $397 in 2017-18 and $525 million in future years.

Response

The NT Road Transport Association (NTRTA) was reasonably satisfied with the NT Government’s announcement of significant major works and road infrastructure spending on the Territory’s beef roads.

On the Katherine bridges, NTRTA executive officer Louise Bilato tells ATN: "The upgrade of these key bridges as well as an additional $4.78 million on flood immunity works are designed to reduce the number of days the national highway network between Perth and Darwin is closed due to flooding."

Bilato was also positive on other initiatives.

"The NT Government’s Buy Local Plan increased the minimum local weighting on contracts to 30 per cent and includes a ‘Value for Territory’ component so contracts aren’t decided on price alone," she says. 

"Industry was very pleased to note that the NT Government intends appointing an independent Buy Local industry advocate with the capacity to conduct spot audits across government. "

But there are disappointments.

"Unfortunately only $3 million has been allocated to the ongoing upgrade and seal of the Tanami Highway," Bilato says. 

"The industry has been calling on both the NT and Commonwealth Governments to commit to the full sealing of the Tanami Roads, as a fundamental nation-building project with capacity to open up the heart of Australia for tourism, agribusiness, cultural and defence benefits."

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