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Wednesday, 16 March 1966

Mr NELSON (Northern Territory) . - Mr. Speaker, I express my approval of the decision of the Government to proceed with this work and particularly its acceptance of the recommendation made by the Public Works Committee that this road be sealed. In the past, beef roads in the Northern Territory have not been built to the highest possible standard. The sealing of the Top Springs to Wave Hill road is a departure which can well be followed in future. This is a very important road. It feeds from the cattle country of the Victoria River Downs area to the meatworks at Katherine and also at Darwin. Many thousand head of cattle are transported over this road every year. Heavy vehicles are required to move the large numbers of cattle to these meatworks. Under the old conditions when the roads were constructed of dirt, a great deal of havoc was occasioned not only to the cattle but also to the vehicles, and a great deal of damage was done to the roads. I think that the sealing of this road will prove to be a very wise move. A considerable saving to the taxpayer could be achieved if the Government, when it constructs roads of this nature, proceeds immediately to. seal them. If a road in this country is not sealed immediately it is constructed, it rapidly deteriorates and the cost of reconstruction and rehabilitation is often as much as the cost of the original construction. The sealing of this road is a wise move. It must be commended.

I do not know what degree of priority has been allotted to this road in the scheme of beef road construction. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) said last night that there was a report on the priority system of beef road construction throughout northern Australia. If we had that report we would be able to visualise and appreciate the priority that the Top Springs to Wave Hill road has in such a beef road programme. But I do say that, within that scheme, this road will service a vast area of the cattle country of the North and in particular the Northern Territory about which we are speaking now. It could be that there are other roads in this priority group. We know that there are other roads which should be constructed in the Northern Territory as well to serve the beef cattle industry. Reverting to the road under consideration, I feel that the work should proceed with the least possible delay. The dry season is about to commence. The sooner work on this road gets under way the better it will be to take advantage of the dry conditions and the most favorabls weather for road construction in that part of the Northern Territory.

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