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AusLink Delivers $300.6 million for the Northern Territory

Minister for Transport and Regional Services - Warren Truss
005TRS/Budget 9 May 2006

The Australian Government has increased to $300.6 million its funding on land transport to the Northern Territory over the first five years of AusLink, the National Land Transport Plan.

This includes the provision by the Government tonight of an additional $30.0 million in 2005-06 for flood mitigation works on the Victoria Highway, on top of $20 million already committed. This will enable the Victorian Highway to better withstand the tests of nature, including heavy seasonal rains or events such as Cyclone Monica.

Of the $300.6 million, $105.7 million is directed to major land transport construction projects - an increase of 105.8 per cent compared with the preceding five years. The remainder is for AusLink Network maintenance, local road upgrades and elimination of crash 'black spots'.

Overall, AusLink will deliver $48.3 million to the Northern Territory for spending on land transport infrastructure in 2006-07.

2006-07 funding under the AusLink Investment Programme

The Australian Government will spend $24.3 million in 2006-07 on AusLink Investment Programme projects in the Northern Territory.

  • A major priority of the AusLink Investment Programme is to overcome the flooding problems that regularly close the Victoria Highway at the Victoria River and Lost Creek floodplain.
  • The duplication of Berrimah Road to the Port at East Arm and future extension of Tiger Brennan Drive will relieve pressure on other arterial roads in the Darwin area, including the Stuart Highway. Work is expected to start in early 2007. This project receives $300,000 in 2006-07.
  • The Budget allocation includes continued funding for an extensive widening and rehabilitation programme for the Stuart, Victoria and Barkly highways. This work will cost $6.0 million in 2006-07.
  • $15.5 million will be used to maintain the Stuart, Barkley and Victoria highways in good condition throughout the year.

The Australian Government Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, and the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, outlined the comprehensive funding package today.

"The recent Katherine floods highlight for most Territorians, and for the Government, the need to use highway rehabilitation funds strategically to address flood immunity and maintain the condition of our roads," Mr Truss said.

Support for regional infrastructure in 2006-07

Mr Lloyd said AusLink's holistic approach to infrastructure funding rewarded land transport concepts that support growth of regional industries, respond to structural change and strengthen local economic opportunities.

"The 2006-07 Budget includes money for selected upgrading along the 1700 km unsealed sections of the 'Outback Way' linking Laverton in Western Australia and Winton in Queensland.

"The road has the potential to provide a broad range of benefits to the areas it connects, and beyond. It is important from an economic, cultural and social perspective to Australia's central regions," Mr Lloyd said.

Investing in local roads in 2006-07

"Northern Territory councils will receive a supplementary payment for improving the connectivity of local roads around the territory, equivalent to an additional one year of Roads to Recovery funding. The payment will be made in 2005-06 and councils can spend it immediately on projects they nominate. The Northern Territory gains additional money for local roads in unincorporated areas.

"This extra one-off payment in 2005-06 represents a significant $9.0 million injection for local road improvements.

"The Australian Government will also invest an additional $23.4 million in the Northern Territory's local roads during 2006-07. This comprises $9.0 million from the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme (including $4.0 million for unincorporated areas where there are no councils), $2.3 million from AusLink's Strategic Regional Programme and $12.1 million in untied Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) for local roads.

"Councils are accountable to the Australian Government for spending the Roads to Recovery and FAGs, but may select projects according to local priorities," Mr Lloyd said.

"The Australian Government has maintained funding for local roads. This will help address the backlog of local road works while also building the capability of regions."

Mr Lloyd said the Government wanted to enhance the ability of regional industries and communities to compete in the national and global economy, and to improve access to services.

"The Department of Transport and Regional Services is assessing applications from councils for unallocated funding under the AusLink Strategic Regional Programme. Successful applicants will be notified later in the year," he said.

Fixing black spot locations to save lives

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to extend the AusLink Black Spot Programme to 2007-08.

"The aim is to prevent an estimated 500 casualty crashes on Australia's roads in 2006-07," Mr Lloyd said.

"This programme is unique among the suite of government land transport investments in that it targets funding to the worst crash sites, usually for remedial treatments such as traffic signals, vehicle turning lanes, roundabouts and improved lighting," Mr Lloyd said.

"The Northern Territory will receive $672,000 from the programme in 2006-07, which will be directed to fixing two priority crash locations. For every dollar outlaid on black spot solutions, the community reaps a benefit estimated at $14," he said.

A detailed factsheet on the Australian Government's land transport projects in the Northern Territory is attached.

Media contacts:
Mr Truss' office - Kylie Butler 02 6277 7680 / 0417 652 488
Mr Lloyd's office - Fiona Telford 02 6277 7060 / 0407 908 504

AusLink Backgrounder - Northern Territory


AUSLINK INVESTMENT PROGRAMME PROJECTS

Darwin urban corridor

Tiger Brennan Drive/Berrimah Road

The Australian Government will provide funding for an extension of the AusLink Network to include a new road link to Darwin's East Arm Port, via Tiger Brennan Drive (Stuart Highway to Berrimah Road) and Berrimah Road. The Northern Territory Government is expected to match the funding amount.

The duplication of Berrimah Road to the Port at East Arm and future extension of Tiger Brennan Drive will relieve pressure on other arterial roads in Darwin, including the Stuart Highway.

Work is expected to start in early 2007. This project receives $300,000 in 2006-07.

Darwin-Adelaide corridor

The Darwin-Adelaide corridor follows the Stuart Highway and north-south railway line a distance of 2690 km between Darwin and Port Augusta. It is the sole all-weather sealed link for the residents and businesses of inland Australia. The Alice Springs to Darwin railway was completed in 2004 at a cost of $1.3 billion.

The Australian Government's strategic priority is to enhance connectivity, maintain the interstate road link in a safe and reliable condition and maximise modal choice and efficiency. The need to reduce the effects of flooding on the Stuart Highway and prevent road closures due to water runoff remains a traffic management issue. A key long-term priority is to improve access to Darwin's port to maximise the potential of the Darwin-Adelaide railway. A Darwin-Adelaide corridor strategy is being prepared and is due to be completed within the next few months.

Darwin-Perth corridor

The Australian Government's strategic priority for this corridor is to ensure the road supports safe and reliable travel - particularly through greater flood immunity - and maximises freight efficiency and connectivity. The focus is on a programme of bridge upgrades through the Kimberleys and delivering practical solutions to flooding of the Victoria Highway. A Darwin-Perth corridor strategy is under way.

Victoria River and Lost Creek bridge upgrades

The Victoria Highway is the only sealed road linking Darwin and Perth via Northern Australia and may be cut for several weeks during very large floods. The focus of the Australian Government's flood immunity project for the Victoria Highway incorporates an upgrade of a number of bridges including the Victoria River bridge and Lost Creek bridge on new alignments and also lifting and strengthening the road surface. This improved access will meet the needs of those who utilise the highway by maintaining essential links for tourism, freight, northern communities and defence requirements. It will support Katherine's role as a transport hub.

The Australian Government is providing an injection of $30.0 million in 2005-06 for this project to accelerate its completion. A further $1.8 million is allocated in 2006-07.

Darwin-Brisbane corridor

The third longest intercapital corridor in the AusLink network, this link connects Brisbane and Darwin via Toowoomba, Roma, Longreach, Cloncurry and Mount Isa. The transport task it serves is complex. The need for future improvements stems from the age of the bitumen surface on more remote sections and the substandard geometry of the road alignment. The Australian Government's strategic priority is to maintain connectivity and enhance road safety and reliability. It is funding the final stages of the Barkly Highway upgrade between Mt Isa and Camooweal. Freight efficiency and preserving urban amenity through towns along the route are emerging issues.

A Brisbane-Darwin corridor strategy is due to be completed later in 2006, and will inform future investment.

MAINTENANCE

Maintaining the condition of roads on the AusLink National Network addresses transport costs, efficiency and safety. The Northern Territory receives $15.5 million for AusLink National Network maintenance funding in 2006-07.