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The commitment by the Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, to fund a road from Balladonia to Walpole has caused consternation in the Goldfields according to Nationals candidate for Kalgoorlie, Tony Crook.
“I am bewildered as to where this proposal has come from – it is totally out of the blue,” Mr Crook said. “It is almost as if the Premier has had another canal moment.”
Mr Crook said that the commitment of $305 million to the road raised more questions than it answered.
“Where is the business plan, where is the support from the Federal Government, where is the money going to come from, was the Shire of Dundas consulted?” he asked.
He said that he was concerned that the proposed road would have a huge detrimental effect on Norseman that has just been supported through the Royalties for Regions Goldfields Esperance Revitalisation Fund to build a new interpretive centre to serve the Eastern states tourists as they come through the town.
“As a former Chair of the Goldfields Esperance Development Commission, I know how much work the Shire of Dundas has done to develop this proposal and get it through the rigorous assessment process for Royalties for Regions projects. And now the rug is pulled out from under them with this left field proposal.”
Mr Crook said that if Mr Barnett felt a whim to fund roads for tourism he should look at the Outback Way – Australia’s Longest Short Cut from Laverton through to Winton in Queensland.
“The Outback Way is a fully developed project, fully costed, supported by other states and the Federal Government and a far more economically important road than the proposed south coast tourist route,” Mr Crook said.
“This road not only has incredible tourist potential, but an upgrade is sorely needed to service the growing mining provinces in the central desert and McDonald Ranges. It also is a very important road for the Aboriginal communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.”
“The Liberal party have no way to fund this project as they have ensured the sale of Western Power will be blocked through their preference deal with One Nation, and the only way he will pay for it is if he raids Royalties for Regions.
“If he does that … what goes? The Country Age Pension Fuel Card?”