How should $100 million pledged towards Northern Australian beef roads by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott back in May be spent?
A roundtable that will help to answer that question is being held in Rockhampton today, and northern cattle and livestock transport groups have outlined what they see as the most critical road investment priorities.
“Unfortunately it’s become a running joke in our industry that you can get a man on the moon but not a road train into Rocky,” Calliope cattle producer and AgForce transport committee chair Leo Neill-Ballantine said.
“Fixing the problem would save $775,000 per year and is just one area where we could reduce the cost to transport livestock.
“In the end it’s passed on to the consumer with more than one third of the cost of the beef we eat spent on transport.”
Livestock Transporters Association of Queensland president David Scott said fixing last mile issues, in particular access for road trains to processors, was at the top of the list.
“Anything we can do to make transport more efficient and reliable will benefit those buying high-quality Queensland produce,” Mr Scott said.
“We are pleased the see the Federal Government getting on to fund this commitment to sort out these last mile issues.
“We’ll use this meeting to urge State Government and councils, who manage our road network, to get these project rolled out as soon as possible.”
This is what AgForce and the LTAQ see as key prioirities for the Northern Australia Beef Roads program:
‘Last mile’ investment priorities:
- Type 1 Road Trains – Rockhampton processing facilities
- Type 1 Road Train – Dinmore
- Type 2 Road Train – Roma Saleyards
- Type 1 Road Train – Mackay processing facilities (via Eton Range)
- AB Triple – Toowoomba to Port of Brisbane
- Road Train – Gladstone Port
Road investment priorities:
- Warrego Highway – Upgrade Warra to Miles (widening and overtaking lanes)
- Upgrade Morven to Charleville (Type 2 Road Train Access)
- Gregory Highway – Upgrade Clermont to Roma
- Kennedy Development Road – Upgrade one lane section and Hughenden to Lynd Junction
- Upgrade to Panorama Crossing
- Upgrade Biloela to Gladstone
- Central Burnett Highway – Upgrade Beenleigh to Rockhampton
- Peninsula Development Road – Upgrade to unsealed sections
NT – $100m ‘just the beginning of what is required’
Highlighting just how much work is needed, and much more funding is needed, is the fact that in the NT alone, over 70 percent of the road network is currently unsealed (approixmately 15,000 kilometres).
NTCA chief executive Tracey Hayes told Beef Central the territory is starting from a very low base in terms of road infrastructure.
Even in the 30pc of roads that were sealed, most had a pavement age of 40 years and were deteriorating rapidly with the increased volume and mass of traffic.
“Large areas of the NT are rendered inaccessible during the wet season. Realistically, $100m is only the beginning of an estimated $2 billion required,” Ms Hayes said.
In the spirit of cross jurisdictional equity, she said the NT cattle industry is approaching the $100m bucket of available funding on the basis that the NT will receive a third, with Qld and WA also each receiving a third.
Within the NT, the focus will be on key supply chain networks in the regions that are lifelines for the flow of cattle within the NT as well as across borders, with key priorities including:
- $10m to the Plenty (Central Australia) through to QLD;
- $10m to the Barkly Stockroute/Tableland Highway (Barkly district) internal and through to QLD; and
- $10m to the Buntine Highway (VRD region) through to WA.
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