Dollars for the bush in NT budget

The sealing of the 157km Namatjira Drive, which began in 2006, will finally be completed in early 2014, according to Minister for Lands and Planning Gerry McCarthy. On Tuesday he announced $5m worth of funding will be in this year’s budget for sealing the final 7km stretch. Work won’t start however till mid 2013. An estimated 50 people will be employed on the construction.

The drive must be one of Australia’s most scenic, connecting with Larapinta Drive west of Alice Springs, heading along the MacDonnell Ranges to Glen Helen and beyond from where it heads southwards to Gosses Bluff. An estimated 41 to 183 vehicles travel the road per day.

The on-going sealing of the Tanami Road will also get an allocation of $2m in the budget. The Tanami runs from the Stuart Highway to the WA border, a distance of 703 kms. Sealing began in 2004. To date some 220kms have been sealed, in six separate stretches. The $2m will cover another 4kms.  Vehicle numbers are from 37 to 124 per day.

The Tanami is the start of the journey to many Aboriginal communities to the west and north-west of Alice, including the Growth Towns of Papunya, Yuendumu and Lajamanu. As CEO of Central Desert Shire Roydon Robertson says, “You can’t have Growth Towns without decent roads to the get to them.”

Mr McCarthy said the budget will allocate about $21 million for roads maintenance in the Central Australian region.

The Growth towns of Lajamanu and Ntaria (Hermannsburg) will also get capital works funding in this budget for water infrastructure: $2.2m for bores and rising main at Ntaria and $3m at Lajamanu, according to an announcement by Minister for Essential Services Rob Knight.

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