Cattle on Great Northern Highway pose serious risk to motorists

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC has raised concerns in Parliament about the number of cattle roaming free on the Great Northern Highway between Broome and Derby.

In response to questions, the Minister for Transport has revealed there were 32 car crashes involving cattle during the five years between January 2009 and December 2013. One resulted in a fatality while a further four people required medical attention.

In all, 68 dead cattle were removed from this stretch of road between June 2013 and October 2014. It was not known who the cattle belonged to and all expenses were paid by Main Roads.

But Mr Chapple said these statistics did not paint an accurate picture of the sheer number of cattle roaming free over this section of highway nor the risk to drivers.

“I recently received a report of 97 cattle counted in just one morning on one small section of the Great Northern Highway,” he said.

“This same report also claimed there are very obvious sections of downed fence and in some areas, gates that are wide open or non-existent.

“As someone who drives this section of road several times annually – my home residence is in Derby and I have an office in Broome – I have also seen large numbers of cattle roaming the road verge.”

Mr Chapple said Main Roads and the Pastoral Land Board should be doing more to ensure pastoralists carried out proper maintenance of their fences, especially on major thoroughfares such as the Great Northern Highway.

“An Australian Road Assessment Program report, commissioned by the Australian Automobile Association in 2013, suggested the Great Northern Highway was one of the state’s worst roads,” he said.

“Given it is a major service highway for the Kimberley, the Department of Transport and Main Roads should be doing everything in their power to upgrade it and ensure it is safe for road users.

“I would go so far as to say this is a case of ‘out of sight and out of mind’ for the Department and quite frankly, it is an attitude faced by Kimberley residents all too often.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.

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