Industry and military join forces in WA
AUSTRALIA'S most significant export assets are largely grouped in and around the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of northwest Western Australia.
Additionally, the defence of this critical region requires access for heavy-duty military transports, with huge increases in frequency during force exercises.
All of that is serviced essentially by one major sealed road heading north, and another heading west across the top.
The threat to productivity, safety and indeed defence are now being carefully examined by local, state and federal governments.
Cam Dumesny, CEO of the Western Roads Federation, met with eight local government authorities from the Kimberley and Pilbara earlier this month to plan how to move the North West Connect project on to the national infrastructure timetable.
The initiative will require funding from both state and federal governments, initially to establish a team of people developing plans and shepherding the
project through many obstacles.
But now, the idea has sparked interest from parties other than the transport industry, who now recognise significant benefits from an high/wide load corridor with digital connectivity embedded alongside, hardstand rest areas every few hundred kilometres and facilities for the transport teams that do the work.
The mining industry has seen that the project would open up additional resources, especially WA's huge untapped mineral earth resources. Oil and gas can widen access to known resources.
Communities that currently pay up to 20c per litre more than Perth prices for fuel can expect reductions in the cost of living, and indigenous groups are seeing that better access to communities will boost much-needed health and living standard improvements.
When the army's new Rheinmetall heavy-duty trucks hit the road, they'll require higher axle load limits to do the job, and the present roads won't cut it.
"Building would be opened up with larger prefab sections able to be moved, and the continuum of work for local people will mean a big boost for jobs,” Mr Dumesny said.
But if there was any better argument for the new network, it was last year's RAAF Pitch Black exercise out of its Darwin and Tindal bases.
It was cut short by a day - the forces ran out of fuel.