Coalition agenda includes nation’s longest short-cut

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – The Outback Way is included in the Coalition’s Northern Australia Policy which is highlighting a significant vision for Australia’s future.

 

Our submission to the Northern Australia white paper outlines how the Outback Way can be kept open for business for road trains for $11m a year, prior to the start of the sealing project in 2016/17.

 

The Outback Way project is not just a road – keeping it open for business addresses some critical policy areas: Productivity for a consolidating mining and freight sector, live export adjustment, indigenous access and equity, and a new adventure self-drive tourism route with the lowering dollar.

 

The reduced distance between WA and Qld due to the Outback Way will facilitate: Linkages between the nation’s two largest mining areas in Queensland and in Western Australia, accounting for over 73% of Australia’s output, saving companies $1m per shift for emergency equipment replacement and $16,000 per mining movement one way.

 

In the past six months there have been significant cattle movements along the Plenty Highway and Donohue Highway into Qld due to dry conditions and producers adjusting to a decline in live export. Pressure on these roads has created bull dust, ruts, and collapsed some sections of formed gravel road causing it to be too damaging for road trains.

 

With the Outback  Way open for business for road trains, WA markets would be a viable alternative, diversifying access to markets and agistment.

 

The Outback Way winds through the land of 13 indigenous communities and seven rural and remote shires, providing access to essential food and requirements, and education and health services enabling continuity of service delivery which will ensure traction and a real difference on the ground – closing the gap.

 

The ILC Indigenous Tourism training college at Yulara offers significant opportunities for tourism development along the route.  We want to play an active role in facilitating these developments and actively support existing indigenous tourism operators and will promote new businesses along the route.

 

An upgraded Outback Way will see traveller numbers quadruple through Outback Qld, Central Australia and Australia’s Golden Outback  in WA. It is an adventure route of note and offers an extraordinary experience with the world’s longest geocache trail – or treasure hunt! It enables tourists to zig-zag the nation for the first time.

 

Keeping the Outback Way open for business makes continuity of freight deliveries and services possible, improving business potential, industry efficiencies,  tourism opportunities, and quality of life for the people who live  in these remote communities.

 

Patrick Hill

Outback Highway Development Council

 

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  1. Russell Guy
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Labor Senator Crossin wanted to take up this “vision” not so long ago, so it’s no surprise that the Coalition have put it out there.
    That’s politics, but could Mr Hill supply a few facts apart from “how the Outback Way can be kept open for business for road trains for $11m a year, prior to the start of the sealing project in 2016/17”?
    That’s a $22m commitment on top of an awesome budget deficit. Has the funding been committed to seal this road from Boulia to Kalgoorlie? If so, how much has been put aside?
    “Productivity for a consolidating mining and freight sector, live export adjustment, indigenous access and equity, and a new adventure self-drive tourism route with the lowering dollar … The reduced distance between WA and Qld due to the Outback Way will facilitate: Linkages between the nation’s two largest mining areas in Queensland and in Western Australia, accounting for over 73% of Australia’s output, saving companies $1m per shift for emergency equipment replacement and $16,000 per mining movement one way.”
    According to ABC News the other night, mining activity in Kalgoorlie is not in growth mode and it’s not because of a lack of bitumen. Taking the Plenty as opposed to the Barkly saves about 500kms.
    “In the past six months there have been significant cattle movements along the Plenty Highway and Donohue Highway into Qld due to dry conditions and producers adjusting to a decline in live export. Pressure on these roads has created bull dust, ruts, and collapsed some sections of formed gravel road causing it to be too damaging for road trains.”
    Cattle movements on this road have been going on since the Chalmers family pioneered it in the 1920s. Shires on both sides of the border grade it, but the section east of Jervois has become exposed due to a lack of rain and wind blowing the dust away, particularly on the higher ridge country.
    The Diamantina and Barcoo Shires are in drought relief. If any sealing occurs, the section east of Jervois should at least be a priority, but the one thing not mentioned by Mr Hill is that this is one of the few wilderness areas preserved from easy access.
    “With the Outback Way open for business for road trains, WA markets would be a viable alternative, diversifying access to markets and agistment.”
    The two main industry’s Mr Hill is concerned about are mining and cattle, with tourism thrown in as an added justification. There are no facts about the numbers of road train movements or other traffic.
    “The Outback Way winds through the land of 13 indigenous communities and seven rural and remote shires, providing access to essential food and requirements, and education and health services enabling continuity of service delivery which will ensure traction and a real difference on the ground – closing the gap.”
    A couple of bridges on the western section would guarantee service delivery. They would be a priority if funding is available, but other than that, it’s business as usual for everybody out there, except the tourists, most of whom take caravans and off-road campers across because they want the adventure, not the bitumen.
    “The ILC Indigenous Tourism training college at Yulara offers significant opportunities for tourism development along the route.” Please tell us more.
    “We want to play an active role in facilitating these developments and actively support existing indigenous tourism operators and will promote new businesses along the route.” Please tell us more.
    The small number of existing tourist ventures are catering to tourists who want wilderness, not easy access via bitumen. This is the difference between the Central Australian Outback and almost every other area in Australia, for now.
    Has Mr Hill done any qualitative research into what these operators, including the Indigenous communities prefer? If so, let’s have the data, not the pork-barelling.

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