Apr 17, 2014

Abbott must deliver on Pacific Highway

Labor calls on Tony Abbott to fulfil his promise of increasing funding for the Pacific Highway in next month’s federal Budget.

Speaking after inspecting preliminary works on the Ballina to Woolgoolga section of the road today, Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said the Coalition had talked endlessly about road funding since its election but done nothing.

“We’ve seen Mr Abbott and his ministers re-announcing Labor-funded projects up and down the length of the Pacific Highway to make themselves look busy,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“But in fact they have not committed a single extra dollar to the Pacific Highway.

“Every announcement and every photo opportunity has been about projects that the former Labor Government designed and delivered as part of its $7.9 billion investment in this project.’’

Mr Albanese said that for the section between Ballina and Woolgoolga, $564 million had been allocated, jointly funded 50-50 between the commonwealth and the NSW Government.

But because the federal National Party had allowed the NSW Coalition Government to reduce its contribution to the work to from 50 per cent to 20 per cent of the cost, the future of the project would be almost entirely dependent on Commonwealth funding.

“Mr Abbott must explain where he will find the money to boost the Commonwealth’s contribution,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“Otherwise the project could fall behind schedule and become just another victim of the blame game of the Howard era.’’

Mr Albanese said the Howard Government, of which Mr Abbott was a senior member, spent just $1.3 billion on the Pacific Highway in nearly 12 years.

But Labor’s s $7.9 billion nation-building investment had allowed the delivery of a series of projects including:

  • The $640 million Ballina Bypass, opened in May, 2012;
  • The $60 million Glenugie Upgrade, opened in February, 2012;
  • The recently opened $80 million Devil’s Pulpit Upgrade; and
  • The $566 million Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade, where construction is well advanced.

Mr Abbott should stop talking and start building on Labor’s achievements.