War of words on sealing highway section
Liberal and Labor members in the Mid West are at odds about the need to seal the Meekatharra to Wiluna section of the Goldfields Highway in 2017-18.
Agricultural Region member Darren West said a statement issued by shadow agriculture minister Ian Blayney was “laughable”.
Mr Blayney said the former Barnett Liberal-National government, of which he was a member, would have sealed the road this financial year had it been re-elected and he called on Labor to do so.
“In 1957 the people of Meekatharra and Wiluna were promised a sealed road to replace the railway line, which was then closed,” Mr Blayney said. “Funds to do this have been removed by the McGowan Government.”
Mr West, who is a member of the McGowan Labor Government, said this was yet another project the then-Barnett Liberal-National government did not see as a priority and deliver when it had the opportunity.
“The Barnett Liberal-National government were the worst financial managers in WA history, with State debt increasing from $3.6 billion to almost $40 billion under their watch,” he said.
“WA Labor has been very upfront about the need to fix the State’s finances and have had to make some hard decisions.
“We will continue to work with the stakeholders to find a way forward with this project.”
Mr Blayney said the road’s strategic importance should not be understated as it connected the eastern Goldfields to the Pilbara.
“It will improve the transport of livestock and connect the Southern Rangelands to Mid West markets and ports, and open the way for improved local access, freight and economic opportunities,” he said.
“This would be very beneficial to the local communities, the resources industries, heavy transport and freight.”
Mr Blayney said sealing the road would also provide a vital connection between isolated communities.
“The social benefits are as valuable as the economic advantages — there is a high cost to social isolation,” he said.
“It is 60 years since this road was first promised, it’s time for this obligation to be met.”
Wiluna Shire has been contacted for comment.
Part of the Meekatharra to Wiluna section of the Goldfields Highway.