It is disappointing that the head of the Pacific Highway Taskforce Richie Williamson, who in the past has been such a strong advocate of fixing the Pacific Highway by 2016, is now in favour of having no target at all.
Commenting on the National Party’s latest proposal which pushes completion of the full duplication off into the never-never, Mr Williamson today told local ABC radio that such a deferral was “inevitable” and he didn’t think the “community’s going to worry too much” about it.
However, before seeking National Party pre-selection for the State seat of Clarence last year, Mr Williamson had this to say (ABC Radio – 17 May 2011):
“The Taskforce has been lobbying long and hard to ensure the Pacific highway is dual carriageway by 2016…
“Of course the pressure really is now on the State Government to ensure they match the Federal Government’s $750 million to ensure that other sections of the Pacific Highway are upgraded immediately as well. I think the motivation should be there, and the community certainly wants the upgrade of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway.”
In 2006, the then Transport Minister and current Leader of the Nationals Warren Truss told the annual convention of the Australian Trucking Association:
“We are investing almost $1 billion in conjunction with the NSW government for further duplication of the Pacific Highway, which is a significant step towards achieving our objective of completing the highway’s duplication by 2016.”
A year later in the shadow of the 2007 Election, the then Prime Minister John Howard said:
“My Government’s preference remains for the duplication to be completed by 2016, in line with out 2004 commitment … if the NSW Government will match our financial commitment…”
Since 2007, we’ve invested $4.1 billion to duplicate the Pacific Highway and in this year’s Federal Budget we’ve made available a further $3.56 billion. All we’ve ever asked of the NSW Coalition Government is that they honour their promises. If they did so, the job could be done by 2016.
Mr Williamson must surely know that the longer this project is delayed the greater the costs will be.