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North Queensland to benefit from $730 million road funding

27 March 2019

Joint media release with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Regional Development, The Hon Michael McCormack, Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport, The Hon Scott Buchholz and Senator for Queensland, The Hon Ian Macdonald.

The Federal Government will invest $730 million to open up North Queensland to more traffic and more business. This investment is expected to seal or upgrade around 700 kilometres of road, the equivalent of building a new road from the Gold Coast to Rockhampton.

The investments will concentrate on strategic corridors that will help spur new business and new jobs in North Queensland, including:

  • Townsville to Tennant Creek - $200 million;
  • Yeppoon to Mount Isa - $190 million;
  • Cooktown to Weipa - $190 million;
  • Townsville to Roma - $100 million; and
  • Cairns to the Northern Territory border (Savannah Way) - $50 million

These road upgrades will help North Queensland recover from some of the worst floods in its history by better connecting western parts of Queensland to the coast. The Liberal-National Government is the first government for decades to invest significantly in east-to-west infrastructure in Queensland, and not just along the coast.

The investments will:

  • • Create the first sealed inland highway from Cairns to Melbourne by completing the Hann Highway. This will cut 12 hours off the drive from Mareeba to Melbourne meaning greater business for banana, avocado and other fruit and vegetable growing businesses
  • • Cut costs for Queensland cattle producers. For example, the sealing of the Springsure to Tambo route will cut 8 hours off a round trip and save almost $1400 per trip, meaning greater returns for Queensland farmers. In total, the CSIRO estimates that this road upgrade will save Queensland’s agriculture industry $4.6 million a year. This investment will also keep this important route open more often. Since 2010 the Springsure to Tambo Road has been closed 21 times
  • • Open up Queensland to more visits from tourists. The investments will upgrade the iconic 3,500 kilometre Savannah Way that connects Cairns to Broome, creating greater opportunities for tourists to see Georgetown, Normanton and Burketown, all places that have been hit hard by recent floods

The new work will provide an inland alternative to the Bruce Highway, offer safer roads for local residents, cut hours in driving time and thousands of dollars in costs for truck drivers, and bring millions of dollars in tourist spending to remote and regional communities.

Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals’ Leader Michael McCormack said the ROSI initiative funding would make roads safer and boost productivity.

“This investment is yet another part of the Liberal and Nationals’ vision to get people home sooner and safer, no matter where they live,” Mr McCormack said.

“It will increase efficiency, productivity and improve the supply chain.

“By making the freight system more efficient, local businesses will also have more money to invest in their operations, creating more jobs and providing a vital shot in the arm for the agriculture and mining sectors, which are so important to Central and North Queensland jobs and communities.”

Speaking in Townsville, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the investments would help North Queensland recover and rebuild from the devastating floods they recently experienced.

“Roads are the arteries of lifeblood for these communities and better roads will get their communities pumping again,” Minister Canavan said.

“We will build on our efforts to ensure that work on these roads goes to local communities, as we have done through the Beef Roads and Northern Australia Roads program. This will provide more jobs and more economic activity in regional towns.

“The funding also includes substantial investments in Central Queensland and recognises the corridor of commerce that exists between the mines of Mount Isa and the beaches and islands of Yeppoon.”

Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport Scott Buchholz said the announcement followed extensive consultation he held with key stakeholders in Queensland’s north.

“The upgrade works will include road strengthening and widening, road sealing and realignment, and improvements to make them more resilient to the tropical wet season,” Mr Buchholz said.

“This new funding injection builds on the Government’s strong record of existing infrastructure investment, whether it’s on the Bruce Highway, Northern Australia Roads Program or our various water infrastructure investments.

”Input from those who live across the north and who use these roads has been crucial in identifying the corridors and we will continue to consult with them to determine priority projects.

“These vital upgrades will reduce freight costs, better connect businesses to markets and improve access and safety for local communities. Our Government’s investment in the Queensland corridors will bring jobs to the region and open up new opportunities for local businesses.”

North Queensland-based Senator Ian Macdonald said these nation-building road projects would increase liveability and revitalise commerce and tourism across the North.

“These projects will create local jobs through the construction phase, and support regional business into the future by ensuring the sustainability of supply chains,” Senator Macdonald said.

“This announcement continues the ongoing work of the Liberal-National Government to bring iconic regional routes like the Outback Way, the Savannah Way and the Hann up to a 21st Century standard.

“Creating a viable network of inland roads has long been a goal of the Liberal-National Government, and the flooding on the Bruce this past wet season has demonstrated the need for alternative inland routes.”

The extra funding for these road projects is possible because of the Liberal-National Government's strong economic management.

This latest spending adds to the dedicated funding provided for roads in Northern Australia through the Beef Roads program ($100 million) and the Northern Australia Roads Program ($600 million).

The Liberal-National Government is making a $3.5 billion nationwide investment over the next decade through the Roads of Strategic Importance program, ensuring the nation's key freight roads efficiently connect agricultural and mining regions to ports, airports and other transport hubs.

The Government has set aside $1.5 billion of the ROSI program for Northern Australia.

The Liberal-National Government has already committed around $3.9 billion in funding for major projects on the Bruce Highway through North Queensland.

Further announcements about specific roadworks to be funded in North Queensland under the ROSI program will be made in coming weeks.

More information on ROSI is available at https://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/key_projects/initiatives/roads_strategic_importance.aspx 

Media contacts:
Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180
Minister McCormack's office 02 6277 7520
Senator Macdonald's office 02 6277 3722
Mr Buchholz's office 02 6277 4144