Coalition promise: $33m for Outback Highway through Alice

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

A Federal Coalition government would provide $33 million over three years for the upgrading and partial sealing of the Outback Highway from Winton in Queensland to Laverton in Western Australia.

 

This will be announced at 10am today by CLP candidate for Lingiari, Tina MacFarlane (pictured), and  Nationals leader Warren Truss at Traeger Park.

 

“Ignored under Labor for six years, we will pick up where we left off when last in government with this visionary project which crossed Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia,” Mr Truss is quoted in a media release.

 

“If elected, the Coalition will provide $11 million a year for three years, matched by state and territory governments, to upgrade the iconic route joining Cairns to Perth.

 

“Australia’s ‘longest shortcut’ is 2,800km long and will crosses two states and the Northern Territory, seven shires, seven towns and cities and 13 indigenous communities along its route.”

 

The alternate route is 1600 kms longer.

 

Mrs MacFarlane is quoted as saying:  “This money will further seal further sections of the road and upgrade unsealed sections with bitumen and provide higher quality unsealed sections.

 

“This is good news for tourism, mining and mineral exploration, freight movement and the provision of services for our indigenous communities.

 

“The Outback Way’s centre is Alice Springs, which for many is the geographic centre of the nation. It is the perfect place to announce upgrading this monumental trans-continental route and put real funding to put actual bitumen on the road.”

 

According to the release, the Outback Way will:-

 

• Facilitate increased investment in mining and mineral exploration, particularly in the Musgrave Ranges, with over 122 mining tenements in the area. It could open up additional opportunities for nickel, copper, lead, zinc, uranium and other precious metals and will improve efficiency in transporting minerals in the region to market;

 

• Improve freight efficiency for cattle industry movements, with an upgrade improving marketing and supply options and reduce the cost of production for cattle transporters in the NT and Queensland;

 

• Improve service delivery for indigenous communities as it winds through the land of 13 different indigenous communities, providing access to essential food and requirements, education and health services, and

 

• Support new tourism opportunities as a self-drive tourism route suitable for use by conventional and recreational vehicles.

 

Mrs MacFarlane will also announce a Coalition government would provide up to $445,000 to upgrade sporting facilities in Alice Springs, including a $295,000 upgrade to the tennis clubhouse and up to $150,000 to upgrade communications and technical systems at Treagar Park football stadium, making the new coach’s box fully operational.

Be Sociable, Share!

7 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted September 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

    A correction to my earlier post – I got the time spans of two key Coalition promises mixed up. In 1980 the Fraser Government promised to have the Alice-Darwin railway constructed within 10 years (the target date was 1988, Australia’s Bicentennial). So ultimately the railway took 2 and a half times as long to complete from that time.
    The five year time frame was also a Fraser (caretaker) Government promise made in 1975, for achieving statehood for the Northern Territory by 1980. We got “responsible self-government” instead, halfway through that period.

    View Comment
  2. Hal Duell
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 8:05 am

    A good perspective, Alex, and thank you for reminding us that infrastructure projects take time and money. I agree the $33 million currently on promise is a pittance. Could even the road from the Rock to Docker get paved for that?
    And maybe the Tanami will get the nod first. It would bring Cable Beach closer.
    But the Outback Way is the piece of national infrastructure missing from the Ozzie road puzzle, and eventually it will catch a spark. Until then it’s slowly, slowly, and the 25 year time frame is likely not too far off the mark.

    View Comment
  3. Posted September 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I’ve got great news – according to a front page headline from a non-locally owned newspaper, the “East-West highway is on edge of reality”. True story! The article goes on to assure us that (very soon) the “Outback Highway” is a case of not “if” it will happen but “how” – and the full cost of its sealing will be only $288 million. The story was published in the month of September, in the middle of a federal election campaign – of 1998.
    When I related this news on a radio station yesterday afternoon during a panel discussion about infrastructure promises (or lack thereof) for Central Australia in the current election campaign, Mayor Damien Ryan kindly reminded me of how his father was involved in a committee from the early 1960s lobbying for the sealing of the south Stuart Highway – and eventually this was achieved.
    Fair point – but here’s the rub. ASPARDO (“Alice Springs-Port Augusta Road Development Association”) was commenced about 1962. The sealing of the south Stuart Highway was regularly promised by the major political parties in many federal election campaigns from that time onwards but wasn’t achieved until 1987 – it was a project funded for Australia’s bicentenary of 1988. In short, it took 25 years but the project was properly funded in just the last few years of this period.
    In the federal election campaign of 1980, the Federal Coalition promised the completion of the railway from Alice Springs to Darwin in five years – as the lead sentence of the front-page article in the non-locally owned newspaper excitedly told us: “The Alice to Darwin railway is a goer!” Well, it did happen, only it took nearly five times longer to achieve – yes, it’s that magical quarter century period again! And also again, the funding for the railway project was allocated only in the few years leading up to its completion in 2004.
    So, taking these examples as precedents, and setting the 1998 federal election campaign as the starting date, we’ve got another decade to wait before the final sealing of the “Outback Way”. The $33 million over three years promised by the Coalition is a pittance, considering it’s now (currently) estimated this project will cost a good half a billion dollars to complete.
    Anybody feel like holding their breath?

    View Comment
  4. Ian Sharp
    Posted September 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    If all we are considering is roads in Central Australia (big if), it may be that completing the sealing of the Tanami is a higher priority than the Outback Way? Scarce resources should go where they will produce the most economic and social benefit, not to the noisiest lobby group.

    View Comment
  5. Albert Diano
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Alice Springs is the center of the nation. The best way to ensure that the Central Australia receives constant funding is for governments to stimulate growth in the center no matter who is the government of the day.
    As with any proposed legislation, this should be the number one priority for all political parties.
    Citizens would then have the opportunity to judge our political leaders on their ability to represent their community.
    Mrs MacFarlane is quoted as saying: “The Outback Way’s center is Alice Springs, which for many is the geographic center of the nation It is the perfect place to announce upgrading this monumental trans-continental route and put real funding to put actual bitumen on the road.”
    Mrs MacFarlane should give an assurance or promise or makes a sworn intention that will ensure the NT will always receive funding for schools hospitals roads and not say she is going to do something just because it is election time.
    Much, much easier travel to Alice is need – the town’s survival depends on it.

    View Comment
  6. Ian Sharp
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Crikey, poor old pollies. Basic premise if economics is unlimited material wants and how best to satisfy them.
    Liberal candidate in western Sydney highlights traffic hold ups there, even blames refugees!
    NT govt cuts teachers out of high schools, federal coalition promises billions for rolled gold parental leave system, yet cutting the school kids bonus and heaven knows what else.
    Opportunity cost is the most basic principle of any economic system. All very well for us all to call for funding for our pet projects, but we don’t always really see the big picture and the needs of others.
    I’m not sure the Outback Way would be high on my list of priorities. How does the cost benefit analysis stack up against other priorities? And while I think of it, the new Alice Springs rail overpass! Crikey!

    View Comment
  7. Hal Duell
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Would it be possible to have a map showing the Outback Highway and which sections are already sealed? I know some of the road west from Winton is, and the Lasseter Highway from Alice to the Rock is as well. Does the single lane from Gem Tree to the Stuart Highway count?
    This is a piece of national infrastructure that is increasingly important, and sooner of later I expect to see the job completed. It’s very welcome news that an incoming Coalition government will commit to getting on with the project.

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*