Nationals’ senators this week have called upon the Albanese Government to urgently bring forward the upgrade of the Tanami Road in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The calls come 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 Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Senator Bridget McKenzie said Labor needs to start delivering on the former Coalition Government’s Tanami Road plan to provide flood resilient infrastructure to the WA north-west given the inevitability of future wet season flooding events.
“The Coalition put the Tanami firmly on the national map in the 2019 Budget by allocating $197.6 million through the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative to upgrade the key road link between Alice Springs and Halls Creek,” Senator McKenzie said.
“We followed this up in the 2022 Budget by investing $510 million 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 wet season has ended and now is the time for the Government to get cracking with this Coalition commitment that will deliver a long-term infrastructure solution that will create more certainty, accessibility, and opportunity for remote communities,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The collapse of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge was devastating for East Kimberley, and a new bridge will not be completed for at least another two years.
“The freight solutions that were enacted during flooding events earlier this year were only patch jobs. The Government must do the work now to sure up the supply network and create more reliable freight solutions, because we know these roads will flood again.
“While the Tanami project now enjoys bipartisan support with Labor belatedly coming on board, I am deeply concerned about the Minister’s rhetoric surrounding the timeline of the works when she stated that it is merely “her hope” for the project to be completed this decade.
“Not only will the Tanami bring more reliability for local communities, but it provides the critical infrastructure supports for our resources sector in north-western Australia.”
Shadow Minister for Emergency Management, Perin Davey has spent the last week in the Kimberly with the Senate Committee on Australia’s Disaster Resilience and said sealing the Tanami Road was raised at every hearing.
“From Kununurra to Broome, and again in Perth, the Tanami Road is considered a priority for general freight and essential in times of natural disasters,” Senator Davey said.
“At one point this year Kununurra was cut off from both the east and west due to two separate flood events, had the Tanami been sealed there would have been an alternative.
“We had the Mayor of Hall’s Creek explain the benefits sealing the Tanami would bring for his community and the nearly 2,000 indigenous people who live along the route.
“Sealing the Tanami makes sense not just for accessibility in times of flood but also to improve freight efficiencies more generally,” Senator Davey said.