Outback Way road access

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National road connectivity and condition
Priority Initiative
Location
Laverton, WA to Winton, Qld
Geography
Developing regions and northern Australia
Category
National Connectivity
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Medium term (5-10 years)
Proposed By
Outback Highway Development Council
Date added to the IPL
26 February 2021
Outback Way road access

Problem

The Outback Way is the only direct route that connects Western Australia to Queensland, and is an important piece of national transport infrastructure.

The inconsistent and poor condition of the road leads to long and unreliable travel times and higher safety risk for road users. Around half of the route is unsealed. 

There are 13 remote and regional communities that directly rely on the Outback Way for the supply of essential goods and services. This is adversely affecting economic growth in many of these remote communities, further entrenching social disadvantage. 

Outback Way also supports industries such as tourism, cattle, freight and mining. However, some operators have reported that they avoid travelling on the Outback Way due to its poor condition, instead taking alternative but much longer routes, such as the Barkly Highway.

The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that remote and regional supply chains are critical for industry and to supply communities with basic needs.

However, local governments often struggle to fund and maintain critical transport infrastructure. If this is not addressed, our agricultural supply chains and regional and remote communities will be vulnerable to delays, higher costs and extreme weather events.

Proposed initiative

This initiative is for improving the Outback Way, including its condition and resilience. Given the corridor is some 2,700-kilometres long, the works should consider the most appropriate treatment for different sections.

In 2019, the Australian Government released the Outback Way Investment Strategy, which set out the Australian Government’s approach for investing their $330 million commitment to upgrade the route. As part of the investment strategy, $100 million was committed in 2016 to fund 13 short‑term priority projects and $160 million was committed in 2018 to fund 12 medium-term priority projects.

Next steps

Proponent to identify initiatives and develop options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).