A disagreement between the New South Wales and Federal governments is holding up the construction of a vital freight link for farmers.
On 10 January Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, said the Federal Government would fund the start and end of the Great Western Highway upgrade, but there was “no money for the middle section” proposed by the State Government.
According to Infrastructure Australia, there were concerns about the merits of the project if the tunnel was not funded.
NSW Farmers Business, Economics and Trade spokesman, Andrew Martel, said people are getting sick and tired of the delays on the critical link.
“We were calling for upgraded road and rail back in 2019, and here we are again approaching another election and we’ve still got political issues stalling progress,” he said.
“Secure freight corridors are essential for the agriculture sector to ensure the delivery of fresh produce to the domestic and international markets, and the Great Western Highway is central to achieving supply chain efficiency.
“While we welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the $2 billion commitment from the Federal Government remains in place, it’s only for the beginning and end sections, which is useless without that middle connection.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, agricultural output from the NSW Central West Slopes and Plains region is close to $2 billion per annum.
Martel said significant investment to deliver upgraded modern carriageways and rail corridors from western NSW through to the eastern markets and ports is essential.
“What farmers and rural communities expect to see is our state and federal governments sort these differences of opinion out and get on with the upgrades we need,” he said.
“There’s enormous economic potential for the state and the nation in agriculture, but to realise it we need to get our produce to consumers.
“It is critical that the NSW Government commit to adequate funding to deliver the improvement in the middle – be it a tunnel or road upgrade – and deliver it within the next term of government.”