Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke applauded the project team behind a significant road upgrade in the Cootamundra electorate for the impressive level of Indigenous representation in all areas of the work.

Ms Cooke said the NSW Government has committed $70 million across five years to upgrade Gocup Road to improve vital links for timber and milling industries.

“Work on the current $44 million section of the project – from Doctors Hill to Halfway Hill – is being carried out by Ertech Pty Ltd, which is committed to enhancing opportunities for Indigenous people throughout the life of the project,” Ms Cooke said yesterday.

“Ertech has really stepped up and proved the commitment to involve the local Indigenous community as much as possible is not just lip service. The company is setting the standard for other construction projects in NSW and Australia.

“Ertech is using Horizon United, a company that is 50 per cent owned by Indigenous people, to provide equipment such as articulated dump trucks.

“In addition, Ertech is also committed to increasing opportunities through training and education, with two articulated dump truck operators from Horizon United receiving on-the-job training, verification of competencies, inductions and other training to improve their skills.

“The company is buying all photocopy paper from Indigenous business, Bibbulmun/ Kulbardi and has bought a spray trailer for an Indigenous person to start up a business at the end of the Gocup Road project. Ertech will also provide on-the-job training to this person.”

Ms Cooke said the NSW Government is committed to supporting strong Indigenous communities in which Indigenous people actively influence and fully participate in social, economic and cultural life.

“The NSW Government Indigenous Participation in Construction Policy supports the NSW Government Plan for Indigenous Affairs, OCHRE,” she said.

“The construction sector has a key role to play in broadening opportunities for Indigenous people and relationships with businesses in this field will deliver some great social outcomes.”

Brett Martin, RMS Director of Projects South West, Steph Cooke MP, Member for Cootamundra, and Roy Wakelin-King, Executive Director NSW Roads & Maritime Services Regional & Freight Division, discuss the implications of the Gocup Road upgrades.

Gocup Road is a 31 kilometre two-lane rural road from the Snowy Mountains Highway at Tumut to the Hume Highway at Gundagai.

It provides a vital link between the economic hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, and the local area.

On 1 July 2010, Gocup Road was reclassified from a regional road to a State road due to significant changes in economic activity and traffic flows in the area, particularly with the expansion of the local timber industry.

“Gocup Road is generally narrow, with tight corners and steep sections. Large numbers of heavy vehicles use the road to transport materials from the local timber and milling industry,” Ms Cooke said.

Work on the Doctors Hill to Halfway Hill section of the Gocup Road upgrade is due to be completed in June 2019.