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Highway project in Thailand

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M21 17 April 1977


The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrew Peacock, who is currently visiting Thailand, today participated in the official opening of the Thai-Australian Highway in north- central Thailand,

The highway was constructed with Australian aid over the period 1970-75, and provides the first direct road link between the northern and north-eastern regions of Thailand,

The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) of . Australia and the Royal Highways Department of Thailand built the highway through"-the rugged mountains between the towns of Lomsak and Chumphae, SMEC continuously employed about 25 engineers on the project. About 800 Thai staff and up to 25 Thai graduate experts were under ,.f

field training at any one time. Training was also provided in Australia The total cost of the project to the Australian aid program was $7,950,000,

Mr. Peacock," speaking $t the. opening ceremony, said that the project was concrete evidence of Australia's desire to assist the countries of South East Asia to attain self-sustaining economic development. He emphasised the high priority which Australia accords

to the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Thailand is a prominent member, Australia1 s "aid program to Thailand would reach an estimated $6,5 million in -the current 1976/77 financial year. Major projects were under way in communications,

agriculture, rural development, education and health,

A further highway, the Thai-Australian Road Construction and Training Project, was currently being constructed between Lampang and Den Chai in north Thailand, The aid program included several significant agricultural projects. The Thai-Australian Land Development Paroject was preparing upland areas in north Thailand for permanent

cultivation, and had recently been extended for a futher five years. The Highlands Agronomy Project was conducting research into the adaptation of tropical pastures in the highlands areas of north f ' Thailand, while the Khon Kaen project aimed to improve native pastures

in the north-east of the country by oversowing well-adapted legumes, In the health sector, Ausbalia. had decided to continue its support for the expansion of a network of rural clinics, linked by radios to provincial base hospitals,

Ausbalia was also assisting the Thai Government1s program of economic development in south Thailand, Mr, Peacock said he had

recently approved the Thai-Australian Rural Improvement project, which involved the provision of a workshop and training centre at Hat Yai in Songkhla province, the construction of a network of rural roads and associated agricultural inputs.

Australia also expected to provide about $1.2 million in training and education assistance to Thailand in the 1976/77 financial year.

In conclusion, Mr. Peacock said that Australia:.regarded the continued economic and social well-being of its immediate neighbourhood as vitally important. Australia lioped to help foster that well-being through the provision of development assistance in

accordance with the recipient governments' development priorities.