Coulton's Catch-up - Week of 20th February
Everything we purchase on a supermarket shelf starts its life on a country road. Indeed, the economic capacity of this country is being impacted because these rural businesses cannot meet contractual agreements because of the poor state of the roads at this present time. The fact is if the produce cannot do the first 10 kilometres off the farm, it cannot do the last 100 or 1,000 kilometres to get to the supermarket.
The widespread flooding that has hit the north and north western part of the Parkes Electorate has left farmers in dire financial stress because they have the grain from last year's harvest in storage on farm but cannot meet contractual agreements with flour millers, feedlots and others because of the state of the roads. There are also cattle producers that have regular contracts with supermarkets and abattoirs who cannot meet their contractual agreements because the roads are closed or too damaged for transport. This is the case for many parts of the electorate, especially primary producers who rely on gravel roads being maintained.
The great irony is that the most highly productive land generally has the worst roads and this is the case on the black soil plains of many areas in the electorate. The most highly productive land is on the black soil, which is notoriously difficult and expensive to build roads on. There is generally a shortage of suitable gravel and road-building materials, and they are very susceptible to deterioration in wet weather.
The Councils of Gwydir and Moree Plains established the Australian Rural Roads Group to lobby this very important issue to Government. They now have over 100 members, including the largest agriculture-producing councils in Australia. They firmly believe that, as well as vehicle traffic, the value and amount of produce that is delivered on these roads should be taken into account and that there should be a strategic approach in putting in local road networks so that this produce can make its way to the markets.
This is an issue that affects the productivity of our country. It is having a severe effect on the economy’s bottom line and restricting our ability to earn export dollars. The two major economic drivers that kept this country out of recession in the global financial crisis, mining and agriculture, rely on a local road network. In this country, Governments need to seriously look at bringing these roads up to a condition that will handle floods and the day to day wear and tear that comes with heavy transport.