Wheatbelt freight network upgrades shore up West Australia food reserves

Key agricultural areas and crucial transport supply chains in the Western Australian Wheatbelt have been prioritised by major funding on behalf of both state and federal governments.

With an additional $20 million secured in a second tranche of funding this week, the Wheatbelt Freight Network program will ensure upgrades to 95 kilometres of regional roads in Western Australia are completed this year.

Established last year to increase freight efficiency and productivity, reduce vehicle-operating cost and improve road safety along strategic freight routes within the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, the investment complements the Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy.

As Australia comes to grips with export tariffs and its changing relationships with trade partners such as China, transport projects across the Wheatbelt region have been prioritised as the WA Government further develops an Infrastructure Australia business case to support future investment in Western Australia Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements.

The business case involves consideration of upgrades to both the primary and secondary road freight network and Tier 1, 2 and 3 freight rail infrastructure.

The program aims to upgrade 53 strategic routes of approximately 4,400 kilometres of road throughout the Wheatbelt to help lower freight input costs to agricultural production and increase Australia’s international competitiveness in agricultural markets.

The $187.5 million jointly funded program is part of the Australian Government’s $4.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance initiative.

“These upgrades will better connect businesses to domestic and international markets via Western Australia’s key ports, improving freight productivity and offering greater opportunities for business growth in the Wheatbelt region,” Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said.

“While the focus is to assist the agricultural sector by providing better connections between agricultural regions and ports, the program will also improve access for tourism, mining and other sectors, delivering social, economic and employment benefits for all local communities,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

Federal Member for Pearce Christian Porter said the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network was a vital part of Western Australia’s economic success.

“The majority of these WSFN roads used by freight vehicles are unsuited to high volumes of heavy vehicle traffic. The Australian Government is recognising the importance of this road network by funding these upgrade works,” he said.