Extend Tonkin, Boost the Region

Today I made the case in Parliament for the extension of the Tonkin Highway to Lakes Road.

Extending the Tonkin makes sense for so many reasons. I explained to the House how the highway's current terminus is choking the Peel Region's roads, and holding back our local economy.

Extending the Highway will make our communities safer and more prosperous. You can read or watch my speech to parliament below. 

I rise today to further advocate for the extension of the Tonkin Highway in my electorate of Canning. The Tonkin Highway was first laid in 1980 and since then has been extended both north and south. In 2005 its southern extension was complete, terminating the highway at Thomas Road in the shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.

Since that time the population of the shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale has more than doubled. With many more motorists on the road, the Tonkin Highway/Thomas Road intersection has become a severe bottleneck, causing heavy congestion to spill out onto many adjoining local roads. It forces existing heavy haulage trucks onto local roads networks, impacting their safety and capacity. And with its terminus at the northern end of the shire boundary, the Tonkin Highway in its current form is restricting industrial growth and the development of the local economy.

No-one understands this issue better than John Mitchell, owner and operator of Mitchell's Livestock Transport. In any given year, Mitchell's is responsible for moving over 500,000 cattle across 1,500 pick-up and delivery locations across Australia. With his business based out of Waroona in the southern end of Canning, John has an intimate knowledge of the road network in the Peel region and beyond and how it could be improved.

At present, any of John's trucks driving through Perth from the Great Southern and beyond have to use one of the following east-west links to get to the freeway and out to Kwinana: South West Highway and Armadale Road, Thomas Road, Mundijong Road, Karnup Road, Lakes Road, Pinjarra Road and Greenlands Road. Most of these links are main streets and country roads running through the Peel region. They are unsuitable for heavy transport like John's, because the roads are either already heavily congested, are dangerous to navigate by virtue of their topography or act as the main streets in local communities.

And even if they do use these roads, the trucks still need a north-south corridor. The only current options are the Kwinana and Mitchell freeways, but these are even more heavily congested. In fact, yesterday Infrastructure Australia released its national report noting that congestion on the freeways will increasingly result in nationally significant losses to productivity.

There is an obvious solution. Extending the Tonkin Highway from Thomas Road down to Lakes Road would solve a number of these problems.

First and foremost, it would allow heavy haulage to travel along an interior pathway, reducing the number of big trucks on the freeways.

It would strengthen north-south and east-west links in Perth and Western Australia as well as provide an opportunity to create better transport routes between the east and west coasts of Australia.

It would cut down the number of trucks currently passing along local roads and through communities, such as the Byford CBD, which is rapidly growing.

It would improve heavy haulage access and also provide a significant boost to the local economy.

The Tonkin Highway extension would create the right conditions for industrial growth in places like the West Mundijong industrial park. The Tonkin Highway extension is vital for the long-term future of Serpentine Jarrahdale and indeed the whole Peel region. We need to prioritise this project as one that will encourage local development and growth.