May 28, 2011

Fair crack of the whip, Warren

Another week, another ridiculous claim from Nationals Leader Warren Truss regarding the Gillard Labor Government’s unprecedented efforts to complete the full duplication of the Pacific Highway.

Yet again Mr Truss has proven that he’s only interested in playing politics with this important national priority because when it comes to this road the only “black hole” is in his credibility.

Let’s be clear: when asked by a parliamentary committee what it will cost to finish the job, the estimate provided by the head of my department – Mike Mrdak – was not new. Indeed it was already on the public record.

For instance, a similar figure is set out in Infrastructure Australia’s latest National Priority List published less than 12 months ago and which can be downloaded from: www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.

What’s more, earlier this month (12 May) I told the Parliament:

“The fact is … there is now $4.1 billion. That is the federal contribution and commitment to the Pacific Highway over a seven-year period. The fact is that that will not be enough over the longer term to fully duplicate it.

From the outset we have been upfront with the community regarding the challenge as well as the need for a genuine partnership between the Federal and NSW governments if the 2016 completion goal to which we’ve both committed ourselves is to be achieved.

It’s time for all governments and all political parties to put their shoulders to the wheel and get the job done.

Mr Truss should take the advice of the new NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell who on 9 April 2010 said:

“The Pacific Highway should be above party politics. It is an on-going partnership between the Federal and State government.”

The Gillard Labor Government has thus far committed a record $4.1 billion over seven years to the Pacific Highway. By comparison the former Howard Government in which Mr Truss served as Transport Minister provided just $1.3 billion over twelve years.