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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 950

(Question No. 687)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 6 March 1984:

(1) Has the Federal Government given approval for the two upgrading projects concerning the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory, for which contracts have already been awarded and for which a total expenditure of $850 000 is anticipated.

(2) Are there a number of other Stuart Highway projects, with a total expected construction expenditure of $3.55 million which have not yet received approval from the Government.

(3) Why have the above projects not as yet been approved by the Government.

(4) When will a decision be made on their future.

(5) Will the Minister for Transport guarantee that, if construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway is not to proceed, funding will be provided under the Australian Bicentennial Road Development and Commonwealth Road Grants Act programs for the accelerated upgrading of the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) to (5) The Chief Minister's repeated repudiation to the Prime Minister of the need to upgrade the Stuart Highway required that I satisfy myself that the proposed works were in fact warranted. I arranged for a technical inspection of the highway to satisfy myself they were required. On 23 April 1984, as a result of this inspection, I approved the projects submitted by the Northern Territory.

In addition to the normal program of works a special budget allocation of $5m for road and rail improvements has been made for the Northern Territory in 1984- 85; $2.7m of this has been allocated for the accelerated upgrading of the Stuart Highway this year.