Building WA Transport Infrastructure for the 21st Century

Media Release

JB009/2014

06 February 2014

Joint release with:

The Hon. Sen. Mathias Cormann

Minister for Finance
Senator of Western Australia

Melissa Price MP

Federal Member for Durack

The Australian Government will spend $3.8 billion on transport infrastructure projects across Western Australia over the next five years through its new Infrastructure Investment Programme.

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs said this investment would include almost $482 million for two major northern road projects left unfunded by the previous Labor government.

Mr Briggs jointly announced at Karratha today that the upgrades of the Great Northern Highway—Muchea to Wubin, and the North West Coastal Highway—Minilya to Barradale, which under Labor were contingent on the failed mining tax, would be funded through the Australian Government's programme.

Mr Briggs was joined by the Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann and the Member for Durack Melissa Price to announce funding for the highway projects of almost $308 million and $174 million—representing 80 per cent of the cost of the projects.

“The Australian Government recognises that delivering productivity enhancing transport infrastructure throughout Western Australia is essential to the prosperity of both the state and national economies,” Mr Briggs said.

“With planning works well advanced for both the North West Coastal and Greater Northern highways, I will now be working closely with the state government to expedite these important projects to ensure we maximise the economic potential of the north-west region of Western Australia”.

Mr Briggs said the Great Northern Highway project would realign and widen the highway, upgrade intersections and add more overtaking lanes.

“The upgrade of sections totalling 87 kilometres of the 215 kilometre stretch between Muchea and Wubin will boost productivity and improve safety and travel times,” Mr Briggs said.

“This section of the highway is a vital link in the National Land Transport Network for transport of equipment and supplies to the resources industry in the Pilbara and the north.

“When this work is completed, the highway will be upgraded to a standard that will enable the triple length road trains operating north of Wubin to travel 160 kilometres further south.”

Mr Briggs said the widening and strengthening of the North West Coastal Highway between Minilya and Barradale would improve freight access to new resource operations and supporting towns.

“The road will be widened to nine metres and two low level floodway crossings will be replaced by bridges to reduce the incidence of closure during flooding,” he said.

Ms Price said there was major traffic growth along the North West Coastal Highway, particularly between Minilya and Nanutarra.

“The growth is mostly heavy vehicles due to several large resource-based projects being developed in the western Pilbara and northern Gascoyne,” Ms Price said.

“These new developments use the North West Coastal Highway, whereas in the past, most of the resource development had been concentrated in the northern and eastern Pilbara, which is served by the Great Northern Highway.

“The widening of the highway will extend the bitumen by almost another three metres in places, making the highway far safer for freight traffic and local communities.

“Today's announcement is great news for the north's motorists and freight transporters.”

Minister Cormann said the Government is committed to invest in transport infrastructure projects which support growth of the resources and agricultural sectors in Western Australia.

“These two important projects will improve the efficiency and safety of freight transport in north Western Australia, as well as provide improved access for regional communities,” Minister Cormann said.

“We are committed to building the roads of the 21st century and growing productive capacity across Australia, without imposing a jobs and investment destroying mining tax.”

The Infrastructure Investment Programme funding for Western Australia also includes $615 million to build the Swan Valley bypass and $686 million for the Gateway WA project.

Other major projects include $140.6 million for Tonkin Highway grade separations, and improvements to Leach Highway/High St ($59 million), Kwinana Freeway ($31.3 million) and Great Eastern Highway ($42.2 million).

The Australian Government has committed over $39 billion to projects around Australia through the Infrastructure Investment Programme from 2013–14.