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Northern Australian Cattle transport routes on agenda

Truss, experts and industry gather to plan improvements


The Northern Australia Beef Roads Programme will be the main topic of discussion today as Kununurra hosts the second-of-three cattle transport round table discussions concerning supply chain efficiency.

To be attended by infrastructure minister Warren Truss, CSIRO researchers, members of state and local government, and beef industry representatives, the Kununurra round table will determine the highest investment priorities for the $100 million the federal government is allocating to the roads programme.

“Today’s roundtable will help ensure the Australian Government maximises benefits to the beef industry from this Programme,” Truss says.

“This roundtable will again bring together representatives from the transport and cattle industries, peak bodies and all levels of government to discuss road infrastructure constraints in the northern cattle supply chains, as well as potential solutions.”

The series of meetings, first held in Rockhampton last month, came on the back of a pledge from prime minister Malcom Turnbull to continue with rural roads investment, a high priority for Truss’ Nationals party and key part of its relationship with the Liberal party.

As part of the discussions, the CSIRO will present its computer-based logistics modelling tool, TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT), which has mapped 20 million annual cattle movements from over 100,000 businesses to visualise the cattle supply chain in Australia.

The CSIRO says the tool shows opportunities for optimisation, identifying ways to reduce travel distances, fuel costs, and vehicle and animal stresses, but it requires advice from the industry.

“The great thing about meeting with people from the beef and transport community is they know their local roads and they know what is needed,” CSIRO Land and Water researcher Andrew Higgins says.

“Roads are vast in Northern Australia and during the wet season it can be difficult to move cattle around.”

“The beef industry is working closely with CSIRO to improve transport infrastructure in the region.”

The meetings will continue in Darwin early next year, where the CSIRO will provide a list of proposed cost-saving improvements that aggregate the data from its model and the thoughts of the industry.

Under consideration could be improvements to the Karumba Port or the Hann Highway, two projects mentioned by independent MP Bob Katter in response to the government’s $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) announcement last week.

Katter says there are 15-30 projects in North Queensland, totalling $100 million, which could go forward at a moment’s notice.

“The Karumba Port could be developed to provide a critical export route for the live cattle market, along with a canal linking the mid-west mineral resource regions,” he says.

“We could also finish the Hann Highway and build the railway line into the Galilee Basin with this money.” 



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