Jan 2, 2015

Governments Must Fast-Track Pacific Highway

Today I inspected the newly opened Sapphire to Woolgoolga section of the Pacific Highway, delivered through the former Labor Government’s six-fold increase in funding for the project.

This holiday season hundreds of thousands of holiday makers have reaped the benefits of Labor’s $7.6 billion commitment to the Pacific Highway, including the completed Bulahdelah, Kempsey and Ballina bypasses and the Glenugie, Banora Point and Devil’s Pulpit upgrades.

However, while the former Labor Government’s funding has facilitated construction being underway on the Kundabung to Kempsey , Frederickton to Eungai, Nambucca Heads to Urunga and Oxley Highway to Kempsey sections, the Abbott and Baird governments have failed to allocate funding for the much-needed Woolgoolga to Ballina section.

The Abbott Government must provide additional funding and a construction timetable for this section in the 2015 Budget.

For months the Abbott and Baird governments have sought public credit for Labor government funded sections of the Pacific Highway duplication, like the soon to be opened Tintenbar to Ewingsdale section, rather than initiating further work.

The time has come for an end to the lame re-announcements and a genuine commitment to the final phase of this critical project.

The former Labor Government reversed the neglect of the highway during the Howard years, when only $1.3 billion was invested over 12 years. Every Budget between 2008 and 2013 saw significant additional investment, including the roll-out of new sections of the road.

But in the 2014 Budget, the National Party provided no extra funding. It’s time they stepped up with investment, not just words.