Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007



Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007

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Parliamentary Record 17


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4868 rising fuel costs, the lack of drivers and increasing congestion on our roads. In the past 12 months, there has been renewed interest in the resources of northern Australia, not just on our minerals, but also a focus on our water resources; this, in part, the result of water shortages being experienced in the south. The Commonwealth held its inaugural meeting of its Northern Australian Land and Water Task Force on 29 June this year, chaired by Senator Bill Heffernan. While the task force terms of reference fails to note the significant challenges faced in developing our regional areas such as investment in roads and infrastructure, I am pleased that it will be looking at sustainable resource use, principles and practices. Investment in our regional roads is about growing northern Australia. As part of the Territory governments submission for AusLink roads funding, I reminded the Commonwealth that only 23% of our road network is sealed. It is the area in greatest need of investment. While 15% of the AusLink road network is within the Territory, historically only 2% of AusLink funding has been allocated to Territory projects. A better share of the funding will help build the Top End of Australia and improve the vital northern transport links. Our priorities include projects under the AusLink Strategic Regional Program that seek to open up business opportunities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of our nation. They include targeted investment in flood immunity on the Stuart Highway, and investment in the Port Keats road and the Daly River bridge, the Tanami road, the Central Arnhem Road, the Arnhem link road, the Savannah Way and the Outback Way. I believe these projects, if supported, will bring real improvements in the bush. Part of the increasing success of our live cattle export industry is a result of the governments investment in roads. The record $180m road budget this financial year is a core feature of our $640m cash investment in infrastructure programs. When our roads budget was announced, Craig OHalloran, the General Manager of the Territory Construction Association said: from a TCA perspective were reasonably happy with the budget; there looks like theres going to be some considerable spending on infrastructure. Happy to see those outcomes. A lot of money going into roads and civil works. Very happy to see that, and I think all Territorians would be happy to see our roads improve. This record $180m investment in roads focuses on growing business in the Territory. Members will recall that this is the largest repairs and maintenance spend, and it is the first part of a $35m commitment of an increase over four years into the roads repairs and maintenance program. Planning for the future growth of horticulture and agriculture means that we need a strong push towards improving our bush roads, those vital freight transport links. They are important assets to business but, critically, they are also the lifeline for many people living on pastoral stations and in our remote bush communities. Some of the specific Territory road plans for our future include: a $36m investment for the Berrimah Road duplication as part of the $72m Tiger Brennan Drive project, a critical freight link between the south, through our Territory Top End and to the port; $10.5m in ongoing funding towards the Red Centre Way; $45.9m in new and ongoing funding under AusLink will go towards the Victoria Highway, an important freight link to the west; $15m in ongoing and new funds has been provided to improve roads around Wadeye; and an additional $8m over the next four years is provided for the upgrade of the Tanami Road. With such a large infrastructure program, it is important that the government works closely with the private sector to ensure that the projects can be delivered on time and on budget. That is why in August this year, I addressed the Civil Contractors Federation on the governments capital works program. I reinforced that while government was committed to strong investment in infrastructure, it needed to work collaboratively with the civil industry to ensure that we can continue to deliver on our strategic roads projects. I was pleased to hear from the contractors that they were enjoying the booming private and public investment in their industry. While the Tiger Brennan project has finally received a funding commitment from the Commonwealth, one important aspect of the project which has not been talked about in the media is the proposed rail overpass on Berrimah Road. This is a further $11m investment on a 50:50 split with the Commonwealth government to further increase the efficiency of rail and road transport to the Port of Darwin. The commitment of funding the rail overpass is part of linking our transport network into what needs to be a world-class inter-modal transport framework. To help keep the Territorys trade route position strong, government needs to work with industry in improving transport inefficiencies; that is, through coordinating our road, rail and sea networks, we will deliver real improvements to our export network through reduced loading times,