The Nationals WA have welcomed the $80 million commitment to fund road improvements in Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network (WSFN) announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget.
Local MP Mia Davies MLA said the project was critical to road safety and productivity in the region and was a worthy recipient of continued support from the Commonwealth.
“The Deputy Prime Minister has been very supportive of this project and I welcome the $80 million announced in the Federal Budget, adding to the $70 million announced in 2019,” Ms Davies said.
She praised the determination of the WSFN project group, comprising 42 local governments working together for the past three years to secure funding for a project of strategic importance for the agricultural and transport sectors.
The WSFN group’s long-term goal is to secure funding support of approximately $500 million for staged capital works over a 10 to 20-year time frame.
“Today’s announcement shows the Commonwealth is committed to this project,” Ms Davies said. “Now we need the State Government to step up their contributions.
“I have raised the project in State Parliament on a number of occasions and I call on the Labor Government to show its support for the WSFN by allocating funds to the project in tomorrow’s State Budget.
“The Wheatbelt region produces 41 per cent of the State’s total gross value of agriculture production, worth $3.35 billion in 2016/17 alone so this is a very important project for our State’s economy.”
Ms Davies said without this vital support from the Commonwealth, the WSFN working group and local governments involved would only be able to play at the edges of implementing the project.
“The roads identified for upgrades are the weakest link in the freight network and the burden of managing these roads is beyond the scope of Local Government budgets,” she said.
“If the State Government can find $50 million to build a pedestrian bridge and throw millions at Metronet rail projects in Perth then they can certainly find funds to match the Commonwealth’s contribution and improve road safety and productivity in the Wheatbelt.”