As Tony Abbott sets off on his latest publicity stunt my challenge to him is to be upfront and honest with the communities who live along the Pacific Highway because to date his “promises” have been as empty as the truck that he’s driving.
Having abandoned the 2016 commitment first made by the Howard Government, the Federal Coalition now don’t have a date for completion.
They also have no idea where the extra funds for duplication will come from that will be a result of delay into the next decade.
The road trip will also give Mr Abbott plenty of time to reflect on the Federal Coalition’s failure to fix the Highway the last time they were in government and see for himself the massive capital works program that’s now underway.
Right now, more than 1,700 workers are onsite upgrading 73 kilometres of this road.
Compared to the former Howard Government’s record of just $1.3 billion over twelve years, Federal Labor has already invested $4.1 billion in the Highway and set aside our share of the funding required to complete its full duplication.
The Coalition should be judged on their record, not their rhetoric.
All we’ve ever asked the NSW Coalition Government to do is honour the promises they made, and only last week they agreed to fund the upgrade of the section between Frederickton and Eungai on a 50:50 basis.
What the Federal and State Coalition have in common is talking big before an election and making excuses after. In contrast, Federal Labor has delivered more money for the Pacific Highway than we promised during the 2007 and 2010 Election Campaigns.
Federal Labor’s commitment to fixing the Pacific Highway is unwavering. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about the Federal Coalition which has consistently shown that they are more interested in spin than getting the job done.
| PAST FUNDING: 1996/97 – 2007/08
Howard Coalition Government: $1.3 billion
NSW Labor Government: $2.5 billion
CURRENT FUNDING: 2008/09 – 2016/17
(Excluding the extra $3.56 billion in 2012-13 Budget)
Federal Labor Government: $4.1 billion
NSW Coalition Government: $1 billion
WENDY MACHIN, NRMA PRESIDENT – 27 FEBUARY 2012
“It was the Howard Government that set the 50/50 funding split for the Pacific Highway from 2006 and the NRMA has supported this approach since day one.
“While in Opposition, the current NSW Government frequently called on the NSW Labor Government to match federal funding for the Pacific Highway dollar-for-dollar and we supported this call too.
“To now suggest that funding should suddenly be reverted to an 80/20 model would ensure further long delays in finally upgrading this dangerous highway.”
JOHN HOWARD – 16 OCTOBER 2007
“My Government preference remains for the duplication to be completed by 2016, in line with our 2004 commitment [and] … is willing to provide our share of the additional funded needed … if the NSW Government will match our funding commitment…”
BARRY O’FARRELL – 8 MARCH 2011
“Only the NSW Liberals and Nationals are committed to completing the upgrade of the Pacific Highway by 2016.”
ANDREW FRASER – 21 OCTOBER 2009
“I pay credit to the … [Labor] Government … for increasing the funding… The Pacific Highway is a State road that effectively causes the loss of one life a week.
“The State Government must increase its commitment… As … Mr Albanese pointed out … the Federal Government is actually carrying the State…”