A Federal Labor Government will invest $60 million to upgrade key sections of the Bass Highway between Wynyard and Marrawah to improve safety for locals and visitors to the region.
Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the Bass Highway was a critical piece of economic and social infrastructure for North West Tasmania and traffic volumes were on the increase.
“As well as carrying a million tonnes of freight each year worth $1 billion, this road is also critical to the state’s thriving tourism industry,” Mr Albanese said.
“But it needs investment now.”
The package of works will include re-engineering of the highway through areas like Brittons Swamp, road widening, construction of new overtaking lanes and safety improvements at critical intersections. The final set of projects will be prioritised in consultation with the State Government, Circular Head Council and the local community.
Funding will begin flowing during Federal Labor’s first year in office.
Labor candidate for Braddon Justine Keay said today’s announcement was the culmination of a community campaign led by Circular Head Council, local school bus operator Kimbra Wells, from Wells Wagons, and the wider community.
“I have been pleased to support that campaign. I have raised the issue in the Parliament, launched a community petition and advocated to all sides of politics,” Ms Keay said.
“Labor’s funding will make the highway much safer, and to use Kimbra Wells’ own words, ‘We just want the road fixed, not repaired’.
“Labor’s funding will make this happen.”
Labor Senator for Tasmania Anne Urquhart said it was time for the Liberals to provide some certainty on road funding, rather than constant contradictions.
“Labor’s funding commitment provides absolute certainty to the people of the North West regarding the funding envelope available to upgrade the Bass Highway west of Wynyard,” said Senator Urquhart.
“That is in stark contrast to the Liberals, who have no firm figure on what they will make available to Tasmania’s far North West.”
Mr Albanese also said after five years in office, the Federal Coalition had failed to commence work on a single new major infrastructure project anywhere in Tasmania – and discovered the Bass Highway only when a by-election was in the offing.
“What’s more, a close look at this year’s Budget papers reveals that the Turnbull Government is planning to cut investment in Tasmania’s road and rail infrastructure by 30 per cent from $164 million this financial year (2017-18) to $116 million in 2020-21,” Mr Albanese said.
“By contrast, the former Federal Labor Government made record investment in Tasmania, which included targeted upgrades to the Midland Highway and an extensive modernisation of its rail freight network.
“All up, we almost doubled annual investment from $157 to $264 per Tasmanian,” he said.