Sod turning ceremony—Warialda bypass

Interview

DCI057/2017

02 June 2017

Subjects: Sod turn for the Warialda Bypass

Mark Coulton: We are here for the Gwydir Shire Council and the producers of the North West, a great example of partnerships between the local Gwydir Council, the State Government, and the Federal Government to fund this very, very important, high productivity vehicle bypass around Warialda. The funding agreements have been signed, and I am sure the Council's plans are well underway, and so before long we will see this being used to give heavy mass vehicles access to the Gwydir Highway in a safe way, as well as the truck wash that will also be very well received.

I am pleased to have my colleague, Darren Chester, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and the Member of Gippsland; it is good to show him a bit of good country.

Get a bit of black soil through his toes and, Darren, you might like to say a few words and then we will hear from Adam.

Darren Chester: Well thanks, Mark. Firstly, can I say it is great to be with you, John, and your councillor colleagues—many of you I have met before. It was wonderful to land at Warialda International Airport this morning. I have already been hit up for sealing it and lights. That was in the first five minutes of arriving. It is great to be here with Adam as well, and you, Mark.

This is a great occasion. It is great that we get together and have the Local, State, and Federal government working together to invest in the infrastructure that the community needs and this is going to be a significant improvement for Warialda, but also for local industries—and it only comes about when you have good local MPs working with the local community, working out what the priorities are and then coming down to Canberra and demanding a fair share for their community. It is great the Federal Government is putting almost $3 million on the table, Adam will talk about that a bit more—and Council is kicking in as well. So it is one of those projects where all levels of Government are working together to deliver benefits for the community. So it is great to be here and I look forward to catching up with a few of the Councillors later on, on some other transport issues as well.

Adam Marshall: Thanks very much, Darren, and great to have you in our region, and I want to also acknowledge Mark and John. Particularly Mark; he is- I am in awe of Mark because of one, he Is incredibly passionate and works bloody hard. I don't know a politician who works harder than him, and I also don't know someone that covers as many kilometres as Mark Coulton—my goodness. I mean, having a seat the size of his and yet there is not a thing that he doesn't get to. This project has been a strong passion of his for a number of years now.

Today is a huge day. This is a massive project; a $6.56 million project, a 3.7 kilometre heavy vehicle bypass from the northern side of Warialda to the Gwydir Highway, and Council will undertake this project. The Council's putting in around half a million bucks and the rest of the balance is being split 50/50 between the State and Federal governments. As Mark said, these things happen when all Governments work together and we have a very good working relationship, particularly around issues of heavy vehicles and freight.

Also today, we are all very happy to announce some further funding on top of that, $364,900 from the Fixing Country Truck Washes Fund—it is great how we come up with these very difficult names for programs—that new truck wash will actually be built just over here, which will be able to be accessed by the livestock trucks using this heavy vehicle bypass, but also the trucks going east-west using the Gwydir Highway. That is becoming very important, particularly for our processing plants like Bindaree Beef, the standards keep increasing and rightly so. We need to make sure the trucks are clean to reduce the risk of spreading contaminants, but also to ensure that cattle are as clean as possible when they are taken to those processing plants.

This is a huge investment in returning more money to farmers, but also saving money for truck companies. This project will save in excess of $100,000 each and every week for freight carriers, but also for producers because it will just make their trips a lot quicker and a lot easier, and negate thousands of kilometres in extra travel each week. It is a terrific project and I do want to commend John and your Council. It was a great proposal. When Duncan Gay first came up, he was blown away with the standard, the quality of the proposal and to have a business-cost ratio in excess of four to one is extraordinary. I have actually never see a project rate that highly and that is a large part of why it is easy for Governments to fund projects like that. So congratulations to you, to Richard Jane, and all the team; a job well done.

John Coulton: Thank you. Well I suppose we are doing things back to front a bit, but firstly I would like to welcome Minister Darren Chester and Minister Adam Marshall, and our personal Local Member, Mark Coulton. To come here today, it is quite an honour for a little Shire like us to have two Ministers on site. We are very, very grateful that our application was accepted. It is going to make a terrific difference to the town of Warialda and it will take the effluent from the trucks out of the main street. The additional productivity it is going to give to the district is- you have just outlined Adam, I know $100,000 a week is an incredible figure, and this council has been working on this for a while, and it is quite evident how passionate we are about it when you see the line-up of Councillors and our senior staff that are here to witness the turning of the first sod. I suppose that what I should add is that part of this project was it had to be shovel ready, well here is the shovel and we are ready.

But it is a wonderful development for our Shire, and we are extremely grateful, and I do need to add that there has been some contribution from the trucking industry towards this project, and I recognise that and thank them also because that gave a bit more kudos to our application that it had some private investment as well. So I am very, very grateful for that.

Anyway, I think we are probably at the stage where we can turn the first sod.