The Western Australian and Federal Governments have joined forces to seal the remainder of the remote highway Outback Way, through a $678 million project.

Outback Way extends 2,720km from Laverton in Western Australia, to Winton in Queensland, with the Western Australian section of the highway to be sealed by 2030.

The Western Australian section of the route is formed by the Great Central Road and extends 872km from Laverton to the Western Australian/Northern Territory border, with 736km currently unsealed.

The Federal Government has allocated $400 million to complete the 872km seal, with the Western Australian Government committing a further $100 million towards the project.

The State Government put a proposal to the Federal Government in late 2021 for the joint funding arrangement.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the upgrades would support 2,197 jobs, and deliver an important economic boost across Australia’s centre.

“Our additional investment of $678 million in Outback Way is part of our plan for a strong economy across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia,” Mr Morrison said. 

“Investing in infrastructure right across Australia will keep our economy strong and growing while ensuring Australians, regardless of where they live, have jobs.

“Our investment locks in a pipeline of works that will drive investment in regional Australia and boost economies from Winton in Queensland to Laverton in Western Australia, helping regional and remote communities and those who call them home to grow and prosper.”

The remainder of the funding will help seal the road in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Western Australian Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, said, “Outback Way is also known as ‘Australia’s longest shortcut’, linking Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia by road.

“When complete, this project will see 872km of road throughout Western Australia fully sealed, providing better access to remote communities, better links from east to west and exciting new tourism prospects.

“With the recent flooding of the Trans-WA rail line, we know how important it is to have alternate routes for freight to come into WA.

“The South Australia floods demonstrated the need for more resilient transport options into the future and Outback Way is clearly one of them.”

In Western Australia, about $52 million has so far been spent to upgrade the route, with an additional $112 million already allocated for works over 147km through to 2025-26.

Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “We are very pleased to partner with the Commonwealth to completely seal Outback Way and I thank the Federal Government for their major contribution to this important project.

“My Government is pleased to allocate $100 million towards the upgrades, with significant benefits for our freight links, the tourism industry and the safety of everyone who travels on this stretch of road.

“This project will create thousands of local jobs and provide a new strategic freight route – shoring up our supply chains with the Eastern States and providing a third major road transport link in and out of Western Australia.”

The further funding means there is an additional $500 million to complete the final 589km over the next seven years.

The road is critical in providing access to remote Aboriginal communities, with sealing to improve access to health and other services, while opening up rich mineral deposits east of Laverton.

The project will also see a new road link to the Eastern States, which will provide a new freight and tourism pathway. 

Kalgoorlie MLA, Ali Kent, said, “We’ve been talking about sealing Outback Way for many years and I am so proud we have received and committed to this funding.

“The Goldfields are a beautiful place and this road will provide so many more opportunities for people to visit.”

Federal Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, said $154 million would be invested in the Queensland section of Outback Way, creating 671 jobs across the state and driving economic growth.

“Sealing and upgrading Outback Way will reduce the long and unreliable travel times that freight and motorists experience along sections of the route,” Mr Littleproud said.

“The upgrades will also drive economic growth in remote communities, bring more tourists, improve connections between people, jobs and services, and goods with markets.”

Work on the project is providing ongoing employment and training opportunities for local Aboriginal people.

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