Dec 6, 2012

Honk if you can add up on Pacific Highway

Once again Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has shown that he puts publicity stunts ahead of the hard policy work that’s required to lead our nation.

When asked where the money would come from to fund his $5.6 billion Pacific Highway commitment Mr Abbott nominated the funding currently earmarked for the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, claiming:


It’s in the contingency reserve and it can be spent when it’s needed.


That’s just wrong and exposes a breathtaking lack of understanding about how the Federal Budget works.  The allocation for this rail project appears in the Budget Papers, with only $67.9 million available between now and 2016.

Such a fabrication is not surprising, and when Mr Abbott is not simply making things up he’s out there exaggerating.

For example, to avoid being judged on the basis of the Federal Coalition’s record rather than their rhetoric, Mr Abbott also asserted yesterday:


“The Howard Government did spend large amounts of money on the Pacific Highway. … We committed $500 million to the Tugun Bypass.”



Not true.  The Howard Government provided only $120 million to build the Bypass, less than a quarter of what Mr Abbott claimed, and even then they had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the former Queensland Labor Government to do so.

In fact, despite enjoying record tax revenues, the former Government spent only $1.3 billion over 12 years on the Pacific Highway.  For our part Federal Labor has delivered more money than we promised during the 2007 and 2010 Election Campaigns.

Indeed, Mr Abbott’s stunt would have taken a lot longer were it not for all the projects we have already funded and completed – see list below.

What’s more, his road trip would have taken him passed the 1,700 workers now onsite delivering the Kempsey Bypass, including what will be Australia’s longest bridge; the Bulahdelah Bypass; the Devils Pulpit Upgrade; the Tintenbar and Ewingsdale duplication; the Sapphire and Woolgoolga duplication; and the Herons Creek to Stills Road realignment.

Tony Abbott should do his policy homework before he again plays truck driver.




  • KARUAH TO BULAHDELAH (Sections 2 & 3): Duplication of a 23 kilometre section; opened to traffic in October 2009.
  • COOPERNOOK AND HERONS CREEK: Duplication of a 33 kilometre section; Coopernook to Moorland opened to traffic in May 2010 and Moorland to Herons Creek in July 2010.
  • GLENUGIE UPGRADE: Duplication of an approximately 6 kilometre section; opened to traffic in February 2012.
  • BALLINA BYPASS: A new 12 kilometre bypass of Ballina; opened fully to traffic in May 2012.
  • BANORA POINT UPGRADE: Realignment of a 2.5 kilometre section; opened to traffic in May 2012.