The Federal Government has announced the Northern Territory’s Gas Industry Roads Upgrades program, funded through the Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative, which aims to fast-track the Beetaloo Basin gas project.

The total of $217 million funding for the new Northern Territory Gas Industry Roads Upgrades corridor is expected to support more than 400 jobs. This builds on over $219 million committed to Northern Territory roads in the 2020–21 Federal Budget and the 2020 COVID-19 Stimulus Package, which will also benefit the development of the gas industry in the Territory.

Funding will also include a $325,000 study for the development of a fully operational multimodal facility and rail terminal in the Northern Territory to meet the current and future growth needs of Tennant Creek and the Barkly region.

The study will explore the feasibility and options for proceeding with the multimodal facility through the investigation of land constraints, infrastructure needs (road and essential services) necessary for the facility and the site for a rail freight terminal for the future Mt Isa to Tennant Creek rail link to meet the needs of the surrounding region.

The facility has scope to provide opportunities for industrial and logistics support for expansion of the agriculture, pastoral, mining and other industries and improved interconnectivity to the future Mt Isa to Tennant Creek rail, existing Adelaide to Darwin rail and the Stuart Highway and Barkly Highway.

The development study is expected to commence in early 2021 and be completed by the end of 2021.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said this project demonstrates the Federal Government’s commitment to improving the road network in regional, rural and remote parts of the Territory.

“The Australian Government has committed to substantial investments in infrastructure that will support the Beetaloo development, as well as directly benefit local communities, industry and pastoralists,” Mr McCormack said.

“Across Australia, we continue to roll out these types of major projects which lay the economic foundations for our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to enable the development of local industry, economic growth and job opportunities well into the future.”

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, said the investment will help open up one of the regions identified through the Strategic Basin Plan for a gas-led recovery.

“The Basin has the potential to transform the Northern Territory’s economy, creating thousands of jobs and supply Australia’s gas demand for decades to come,” Mr Pitt said.

“The government’s investment in roads and other supporting infrastructure will help unlock these benefits as well as supporting job opportunities for locals.

“These road upgrades will provide quality infrastructure to support gas development and other industries in and around the Beetaloo Sub-basin.

“This will support industry and business by providing more reliable freight links that will reduce the cost of doing business.”

Northern Territory Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Eva Lawler, said the road upgrades will open up economic opportunities for the Northern Territory.

“Our government recognises the importance of regional jobs for Territorians,” Ms Lawler said.

“That’s why we are investing in economically enabling infrastructure and upgrades to our remote roads including the $217 million with this announcement to upgrade the Buchanan Highway, Western Creek Road and Gorrie Dry Creek Road.

“Reliable supply chains are crucial for growing the Territory’s economy by attracting new economic development and supporting our existing industries to grow in remote and regional areas. 

“This investment will help make sure the Territory is Australia’s comeback capital.”

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport, Scott Buchholz, said the Federal Government is investing $4.6 billion in the ROSI initiative to better connect regional businesses to local and international markets, as well as better linking regional communities.

“ROSI is all about ensuring our key freight roads efficiently connect agricultural and mining regions to ports, airports and other transport hubs,” Mr Buchholz said.

“This initiative delivers works such as road sealing, flood immunity, strengthening and widening, pavement rehabilitation, bridge and culvert upgrades and road realignments.”

Senator for the Northern Territory, Dr Sam McMahon, said the project will help better connect regional businesses to local and international markets as well as forge stronger links between regional communities.

“With the Northern Territory being a prosperous but vast landscape, these vital road corridors are integral to our regional and remote communities and this further funding is only going to see them thrive well into the future,” Dr McMahon said.

APPEA Director, Northern Territory, Keld Knudsen, said, “As an industry, we have a tremendous opportunity to continue to unlock the wealth, jobs and business opportunities that would come from developing the Territory’s existing and prospective natural resources — including the Beetaloo Sub-basin — and increase economic growth for the Territory and Australia.”

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