Calls to seal Tanami

28 May, 2013 02:00 AM

THE Tanami Action Group (TAG) is lobbying the Federal Government to seal the Tanami Road.

But proponets suggest it would cost a hefty $564 million and take 15 years to complete.

The Tanami road runs between Halls Creek and Alice Springs and stretches just over 1000 kilometres.

It crosses the WA and Northern Territory State border and is used by tourists, trucks and local residents of the Aboriginal communities dotted along the way.

According to TAG sealing the Tanami would benefit the entire Kimberley by providing more options to freight in and out of the region.

It would also significantly improve cattle welfare on trucks and would open up markets in the south east corner of Australia, which were previously inaccessible.

TAG representative and Halls Creek Shire economic development officer Lara Wilde said currently there were two options of freighting into or out of that corner of Australia.

She said trucks could either drive up to Alice Springs, head to Katherine and across to Kununurra, or drive across the Nullarbor and up the west coast to Broome.

"To go via the Tanami is 1100km shorter than through Alice Springs and Katherine and 3000km shorter than up the west coast," Ms Wilde said.

"We don't have a decent sized abattoir in the Kimberley and we have about 600,000 head of cattle up here, around 160,000 of those are going to market and 100,000 of those could potentially be going down the Tanami to the Alice Springs saleyards and the other larger abattoirs in South Australia.

"We have all this fresh produce from the Fitzroy Valley and the Ord that needs to get to market and the shortest route is down the Tanami.

"Whether you are talking about produce, cattle, general supplies, mining, construction or people, it all makes sense."

According to TAG approximately $200m was contributed to the Kimberley economy each year through pastoral stations, horticulture and broadacre crops.

The instability of the live export trade demanded an efficient route to alternative markets for the viability of pastoral stations and the welfare of livestock.

New agricultural projects in the Fitzroy and Ord Valley would require machinery, resources and supplies from south eastern States and a freight corridor to take their produce to the heavily populated south eastern markets.

Ms Wilde said everything pointed to the Kimberley region booming and fixing the road was a strategic move to ensure the growth was not hindered by distance, isolation and access to markets.

TAG chairman Phillip Hams, Gogo station, said with the amount of produce and number of industries in the Kimberley, upgrading the Tanami was an obvious choice.

He said it wasn't about only the current situation, but it was a good planning move for the substantial future activities of the region.

Mr Hams also said it would provide pastoralists with another market option.

"The Fitzroy Valley is ideally located for a thriving live export market," he said.

"But if that market ceases, you couldn't find a worse spot in Australia to run cattle.

"Upgrading the Tanami means opening up market options for all industries up here, including pastoralists."

Mr Hams said another beauty of the Tanami was that it would be an all-weather road.

"You wouldn't have to deal with damage from cyclones or wet weather that you get on the Great Northern Highway," he said.

"In terms of getting supplies up here and produce out during those times it would be a bonus."

TAG had recently attended the annual Major Projects Conference in Perth to put forward its project idea for the road.

It was calling on the Federal Government to fund the project.

Ms Wilde said rather than asking for the full $546m they would be looking for a 15-year commitment.

"If we request $50m a year for 15 years we think the government will be more willing to talk," she said.

"I think we have a pretty good chance of getting the funding, although as it is on a federal level we are competing against all other federal roads."

p For more information please visit TanamiActionGroup.

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28/05/2013 6:40:55 PM, on Farm Weekly

We should have an alternative route to the east,instead of going around the coast. Another route would be from Laverton across the Gunbarrell to the Alice.Can you imagine this being opened up.


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