Monday, 5 September 2022
Statements by Members
Outback Highway Development Council
I rise today to congratulate the Outback Highway Development Council on the 25th anniversary of successfully lobbying to create the Outback Way, Australia's longest shortcut. Twenty-five years ago, Pat Hill, President of the Shire of Laverton in the northern Goldfields of O'Connor, moved a motion at the Australian Local Government Association conference calling for the sealing of the 2,700 kilometres route from Laverton to Winton in western Queensland. This would create an iconic new trans-Australia tourism route that would also enhance the movement of agricultural produce and freight, and connect remote Aboriginal communities. Since 1997, the five shires along the Outback Way have worked tirelessly to make this a reality.
I recently attended the Outback Way AGM and met with the Winton Shire Council Mayor Gavin Baskett, Councillor Shane Mann and CEO Ricki Bruhn; Boulia Shire Council Mayor Rick Britton, Councillor Jack Neilson and CEO Lynn Moore; and, from O'Connor, the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku CEO Kevin Hannagan; Shire of Laverton President Patrick Hill, Councillors Robin Prentice and Rex Weldon and CEO Phil Marshall. They are continuing the legacy of previous mayors, shire presidents and councillors in literally paving the Outback Way.
Together, they have successfully secured almost $1.2 billion in state, territory and federal funding. The first federal investment of $10 million was announced by then Prime Minister John Howard in 2006, and in the May budget the then Deputy Prime Minister announced the coalition government would commit $678 million, which would see the remaining gravel bituminised. I sincerely hope the Albanese government will honour this commitment to complete the Outback Way, an amazing nation-building program.