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Thursday, 15 October 1964

Mr Reynolds s asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

1.   What beef road projects (showing the mileages involved) have been undertaken by (a) the Commonwealth and (b) the Commonwealth in association with a Stale, in Northern Australia?

2.   What is the specific purpose of each project?

3.   In each case, what mileages have been (a) constructed and (b) sealed and when will (i) construction and (ii) sealing be completed?

4.   For each project, what has been the expenditure to date, and what is the estimated cost on completion?

5.   In each case, what would be the additional cost involved in completely sealing the road?

Mr Fairbairn - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

The information sought by the honorable member in relation to the progress of the beef road projects being undertaken by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory, and with financial assistance from the Commonwealth in Queensland and Western Australia, is set out in the following statements.

The primary purpose of each of the beef roads is to facilitate transport of store cattle from breeding areas into fattening country and fat cattle from fattening country to railheads and/or meatworks. Although the roads are intended primarily for this purpose, consideration has been given to other factors including the benefits which will accrue to the population in the localities concerned and to other industries such as the rnining industry.


The estimated date of completion of the work on these roads is June 1967. The full length of the roads will be sealed.


In addition, work is being carried out on upgrading and improving the feeder roads to these principal routes.

The steps being taken in Western Australia are directed towards a uniform up-grading, by stage construction, of the roads in the Beef Roads Scheme. In general, most of the roads have so far only been improved to minimum standards. The particulars shown above of " construction work and improvements in progress " include many miles of minor improvements (e.g. to the formation and by the provision of culverts and crossings).

The total expenditure on all of these works from the Commonwealth and Stale funds to 30th June 1964, was £4,073,000. The Western Aus tralian Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1962 expires in June 1966, and under this Scheme, a further £3 million of Commonwealth and States funds will be spent. The total Commonwealth grant then involved will be £3.45 million.

The Department of Public Works, Western Australia, has informed my Department that detailed estimates are currently being prepared for a continuance of the up-grading of the road system and for sealing of those sections where traffic and other conditions warrant this treatment. An accurate estimate of the additional cost of sealing cannot be given at this stage, but it is estimated that it will be of the order of £4,700 per mile.


Except for some short lengths of experimental work, no sealing of the roads has been carried out.

It is not possible at this stage to give an accurate estimate of the additional cost involved in sealing each road, as costs would vary for different sections and considerable investigation would be necessary to determine what additional gravelling would be required prior to sealing. As a guide, however, the Department of Works has advised that the additional costs of sealing a 12 ft. width of road as part of the initial construction could be figured on the basis of about £2,000 minimum per mile and for sealing at a later date on the basis of about £2,500 minimum per mile or higher, depending on the amount of re-gravelling and re-compaction that would be necessary prior to sealing. On this basis, the cost involved in sealing the 1,100 miles approximately of beef roads could be expected to be around £2.5 million minimum on present day costs.

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