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Federal Government Keeps the Northern Territory Moving

John Anderson

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the National Party


14th May 2002

The Federal Government will spend $42 million in 2002-03 on Northern Territory roads, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

"Maintenance and safety improvements to the Stuart, Barkly and Victoria Highways will cost $17.7 million in 2002-03, accounting for the majority of the $27.7 million allocated to National Highway category roads.

"The construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway will augment the importance of this network to service regional freight centres, so its condition and reliability must be of a high order.

Replacing flood-prone bridges

"Reducing the number of floodprone bridges is a major factor affecting road network reliability. The Federal Government is committed to lessening the impacts of flooding on tourism, industry and the social lives of people whose only road access in remote Australia is the National Highway system.

"The 2002-03 Federal Budget includes funds to replace under-performing bridges that are submerged in the Wet, and cut transport for days, and sometimes weeks, at a time.

"The Government has set aside a further $6 million in 2002-03 towards the combined cost of replacing Stuart Highway bridges over the Hugh, Finke and Palmer rivers. Motorists will start using the new Hugh River bridge from August 2002.

Saving Lives with the Black Spot Programme

"The Government has kept its election commitment to continue the Black Spot Programme, which provides funding to improve dangerous locations on Australia's roads. The programme is estimated to have prevented more than 1,500 serious crashes during its first three years of operation. We will spend $180 million nationally on the programme over the next four years.

"The Northern Territory will receive $670,000 in Black Spot funding in 2002-03, which will undoubtedly save lives," Mr Anderson said.

Maintaining Local roads

"Local roads in the Northern Territory will receive $13.7 million in Federal Government funds in 2002-03 from the Roads to Recovery Programme and untied Local Road Grants.

"The $1.2 billion Roads to Recovery Programme is the largest funding injection into local roads by any Federal Government. Local councils, rather than government bureaucrats, are responsible for identifying Roads to Recovery projects, because we recognise that local leaders are best placed to judge the needs of their communities.

Higher Mass Limits

"The Government will provide $4 million nationally in 2002-03 to continue a bridge upgrading programme along roads other than the National Highway or Roads of National Importance. The programme enables state, territory, and local governments to access Commonwealth assistance to upgrade bridges and open up key regional freight routes for heavy vehicles with higher mass limits.

"For example, this year the live cattle export industry around Katherine and at Halls Creek in Western Australia has been a major beneficiary of a joint Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government plan to strengthen and upgrade four bridges on the Buntine Highway, south-west of Katherine.

"The Government contributed $400,000 in 2001-02 to the cost of replacing decks and erecting guardrails on the Buntine Highway crossings at Armstrong, Cullenjackie, Townsend and Camfield creeks, between 297 kilometres and 380 kilometres from Katherine.

"Upgrading these bridges will allow a higher load limit travelling environment for heavy transports under normal conditions," Mr Anderson said.

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680