May 17, 2017

Coalition hits brakes on Pacific Highway upgrade

The Turnbull Government has slowed work on the Pacific Highway duplication, slashing investment by nearly half next financial year.

According to last week’s Budget documents, the Coalition will invest $1.37 billion on Pacific Highway projects in the year to June 30.

But in the 2017-18 financial year, investment will tumble to $710 million.

Across the national infrastructure program, last week’s Budget cut investment by $1.6 billion this year alone, including cuts to the Blackspots Program, the Bridges Renewal Program and investment to improve roadside facilities for truck drivers.

When promoting Budget 2017, Mr Turnbull has pretended that he has finally embraced Labor’s sensible calls for increased infrastructure investment to boost productivity and drive economic and jobs growth.

But the reality does not match the rhetoric.

Mr Turnbull has pushed the Pacific Highway duplication into the slow lane.

This is despite Coalition MPs talking up their commitment by, for example, promising action on the long-awaited Coffs Harbour Bypass, which also received no funding in the Budget.

The Prime Minister’s cuts represent a stark contrast to the performance of the former Labor Government, which invested $7.9 billion on the Pacific Highway over six years – six times the amount the former Howard Government invested over 12 years.