Deaths on Tanami Highway: CLC chairman wants action


p2150-Francis-KellyBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Central Land Council chairman Francis Kelly says motorists are losing their lives on the Tanami Highway.
He says between the turn-off from the Stuart Highway and the Papunya turn-off at Napperby, part of the road is single lane which “has suffered this summer. Bitumen has been patched up and is bubbling up, creating dangerous road conditions.
“The biggest problem are the deep verges on the side of the bitumen,” says Mr Kelly.
“There are too many broken windows and cars rolling when drivers lose control as they make way for other cars or passing trucks.”
He says a child received facial injuries on a school bus being side-swiped by a truck.
The road is also used by tourists going to Western Australia and by road trains servicing the Granites gold mine.
Mr Kelly, whose call is supported by school teacher John Harrington, has written to Infrastructure Minister Peter Chandler.
Meanwhile Chief Minister Adam Giles has announced the highway is one of four NT projects that have been recognised as nationally significant in the Australian Infrastructure Plan released by the Federal Government yesterday.
The other three are the North East Gas Interconnector linking Territory gas supplies to eastern markets; Darwin region water supply infrastructure upgrades; and developing enabling infrastructure and essential services in remote Territory communities as part of a regional economy.


  1. The Tanami Highway is damaged by heavy mining and freight trucks far more than rainfall.
    The Granites gold mine it services is highly profitable and the Walpiri land owners are very well paid through royalties in excess of $3m per year.
    This money can be spent in any way by the owners.
    Should the taxpayer alone pick up the tab for fixing the road?

  2. Where the Tanami Highway is open to public vehicles as public highway then maintenance of it is government responsibility.
    Any sections NOT open to Public traffic are private roads thus responsibility of private land-owners, not government.
    Where Central Land Council comments on condition of public roads they can expect public support by users of the same public road sections.
    Where Central Land Council comments about sections of road NOT open to public, it is the relevant land-owners’ problem.
    Conventionally when government proposes to maintain or construct public roads government undertakes resumption of the relevant land paying “just compensation” to construct the public road.
    Commonwealth needs to amend the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act to enable such change of ownership.

  3. Paul Parker: I was driving around the Pilbara WA recently and was impressed with the roads around the mining capital Newman and far out into the remote desert such as along the Telewana Track.
    It wasn’t the WA Government at work on the roads, it was the miners like Newcrest.
    They needed good roads and so did the Aboriginal communities where the traditional owners lived.
    You could safely drive a land cruiser at 120 kph down those remote roads.
    It was a different attitude over there, no one turned to the Government to fix the roads, the miners and Aboriginal people were the main users and they maintained them without any argument.

  4. A slow news day? Slow right down when facing oncoming traffic on single lane roads. Get right off the road if it is a truck. No brainer.

  5. Why don’t people drive at suitable speeds according to road conditions? How many people use these roads? Where is the money going to come from? We all hear about what the Territorians can do. Now is the time to step up and show the rest of Australia what they can do.

  6. The NT Government (taxpayers) has already committed $7m to upgrade the road in the 2015-16 budget.
    Time for road users to help out by sharing some of the large profits they make from mining and mining royalties.

  7. Declare it a substandard road and reduce the speed limit.
    If the trucks are breaking the road up abnormally then restrict the speed of the trucks.
    We operated heavies out there decades ago and preserved the road and our trucks by being lighter on the loud pedal and showing consideration for other road users.


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