Within the last 24 hours, testimony given by officials from the Infrastructure Department to Senate Estimates has confirmed that the Federal Coalition’s policy to delay completing the full duplication of the Pacific Highway until beyond 2020 would result in further significant cost blowouts.
Indeed, such a delay would increase the Federal Coalition’s funding shortfall by at least $800 million to $1.3 billion, a hole neither they nor their colleagues in the NSW Government have committed to filling.
During his evidence, the Secretary of the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport Mike Mrdak told senators:
“As we know, even on conservative estimates, the cost of the project will increase over time as the project is further pushed out. We’ve done some initial indicative estimates. Based on very conservative estimates, we would estimate that if the completion was pushed out to say 2020 it would be at least an $800 million additional cost in today’s dollars.”
Then Mr Mrdak went on to warn:
“If the completion was pushed out beyond 2020, to say 2024, our estimate would be something on the order of between $1.2 and $1.3 billion cost in today’s dollars additional to the current estimate of completion.”
As history has shown, the Federal Coalition consistently fails to deliver when it comes to the Pacific Highway, and their latest “promise” is simply a recipe for even more delays, even more blowouts and even more excuses.
Only Federal Labor is genuinely committed to finishing the job by 2016.
Compared to the former Howard Government’s record of just $1.3 billion over 12 years, we have already invested $4.1 billion in the Highway and set aside our share of the funding required to complete its full duplication. All we have ever asked the NSW Coalition Government to do is honour the promises they made.