The forum presented an opportunity for Councils in our region and other areas of Northern Australia to put forward and highlight the priority road infrastructure projects and planning that needed to be addressed by the Federal Government.
For Livingstone Shire one on the key areas that was put forward for consideration was the Shoalwater Bay Army Training Area primary access routes which include Stanage Bay Road.
Shoalwater Bay Army Training Area is of both National and International importance. Despite this and the soon to be undertaken major expansions in operational capability there has still been no commitment to bring these roads up to appropriate State and National standards.
Regrettably it has been almost 12 years since former Defence Minister Robert Hill committed the first $7.4M instalment toward Stage 1 of those critically important major access road upgrades in 2007.
Despite Council making numerous deputations on this matter our communities continue to run the gauntlet of sharing these routes with major army convoys and b-double transports while we wait for the Federal Government to provide the funding to upgrade the remaining sub-standard roads.
Even with the promised $1.2billion Singaporean investment to upgrade army facilities inside the training area there is still no commitment to bring the public access roads up to a safe ‘fit for purpose’ standard for the scale and increased number of the army exercises now being run.
Given ADF currently occupies almost 25% of our Shire, a percentage that will soon be increasing with flagged new acquisitions, it is not right for ADF to refuse to meet its moral obligation to make these roads safe by funding their upgrades.
It is also not fair for the Federal Government to expect ratepayers to foot the bill especially given the fact that ADF pays no rates and steadfastly refuses make any contribution to capital road upgrades.
Hopefully our latest deputations at the ROSI forum and the representation we intend to make in advance to the upcoming Federal Election will finally cut through to ensure we get the safety outcomes and roads upgrades community needs and deserves.