Mar 9, 2015

Abbott slashes Pacific Highway investment

Tony Abbott has slashed commonwealth investment on the Pacific Highway duplication by nearly two thirds despite pretending to have increased his investment.

The 2013-14, Federal Labor Government Budget invested $1.023 billion on the Pacific Highway.

The first Coalition Budget allocated just $357 million in in 2014-15 – a 65 per cent decline in investment.

These figures put the lie to claims by Mr Abbott and hapless Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss that they have boosted funding on this important road project since taking office.

In fact, Mr Abbott has not spent a cent on the Pacific Highway since his election that was not already allocated by the former Labor Government.

His 2014 Budget was the first in years to have included no new funding for the Pacific Highway.

The only contribution Mr Abbott and Mr Truss have made has been to incessantly re-announce sections of the Pacific Highway upgrade that were planned and funded by Labor.

Mr Abbott should abandon his pathetic and misleading attempt to seek credit for Labor’s work and get on with planning and funding the next wave of productivity enhancing infrastructure in this country.

He could start by using the May Budget to fund the critical Woolgoolga to Ballina section of the Pacific Highway duplication, which he should have funded in his 2014 Budget.

Mr Abbott should also reverse his decision to let NSW Premier Mike Baird off the hook when it comes to funding the Pacific Highway duplication by agreeing to allow to him to reduce the NSW contribution to only 20 per cent of the value of the project

This means the NSW Government will not need to provide any new investment for the upgrade.

More importantly, it means the completion of the upgrade has been delayed.

Today we were pleased to visit Newrybar to inspect the almost completed Tintenbar to Ewingsdale section of the upgrade, where work began under the former Labor Government in 2012.

Work is also continuing on Labor Government funded sections including Kundabung to Kempsey , Frederickton to Eungai, Nambucca Heads to Urunga and Oxley Highway to Kempsey.

Other Labor Government funded sections including the Bulahdelah, Kempsey and Ballina bypasses and the Glenugie, Banora Point and Devil’s Pulpit upgrades are already complete.

Labor calls on Mr Abbott to get on with the job and fund further work in the Budget.