Revelations in Senate Estimates that residents of North-Western Australia will have to wait 10 years for the Tanami Road to be sealed are a betrayal to communities, according to Opposition Senators.
Questions were put to the Department of Infrastructure about the alternate route to the Kimberley after devastating floods in the Northern Territory and Western Australia cut off critical trade routes and left communities stranded for days without supply of fresh food.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Management, Senator Perin Davey, questioned the Department on the project timeline during Senate Estimates on Monday.
“The Deputy Secretary has stated that connectivity to remote communities is a is a critical rationale for why these projects exist and the Minister for Emergency Management has declared disaster mitigation and resilience is a priority.
“Despite this, the government has instead chosen to delay the project and critical funding for it.
“There are two thousand Indigenous Australians along the Tanami route who are left behind by this decision, not to mention the destination communities of Fitzroy Crossing and Kununurra who need the Tanami as an alternative freight and transport route.”
Senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds, said until this project is complete, it is effectively a road to nowhere.
“During my recent visit to flood-affected communities in Fitzroy Crossing and Kununurra, I witnessed first-hand the urgent necessity to seal the Tanami Road,” Senator Reynolds said.
“This transformative project serves not only as an additional lifeline for remote communities in the aftermath of natural disasters, it is also essential to optimise freight efficiencies across the Kimberley.
“Both the Albanese and McGowan Labor Governments have failed to prioritise this urgent project. The confirmation in Senate Estimates this week that works will not be complete for another decade is completely and utterly disappointing and falls short of reasonable community expectations.
“We cannot afford any further delays, and immediate action for the Tanami Road is imperative.
“Not only would the paved road provide vital all-season access to regional and remote communities, but it could be a key component of Australia’s comprehensive northern defence strategy. Waiting a decade for this is simple unacceptable.
“The Tanami Road represents more than just another infrastructure project. By sealing this road, we can unlock the full potential of our region and bolster the economic growth and prosperity of the nation.
“This is why the Coalition invested $510 million in the 2022 Budget through the Coalition’s $7.1 billion Energy Security and Regional Development program to seal the Tanami across both Western Australia and the Northern Territory.”
The future of the Tanami Road is stuck in limbo as a result of the Albanese Labor Government’s 90-day infrastructure review, along with 46 other projects in Western Australia.
The Senators said the inland road network must not be delayed, after the Coalition’s proven commitment to urgently seal the Tanami Road.