Feb 16, 2016

Pacific Highway – Fund infrastructure, not ads

Despite Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing public infrastructure investment has plunged 20 per cent since the Coalition took office, the Prime Minister plans to cut actual investment even further to pay for an advertising campaign to pretend otherwise.

Confirmation of the plan came last week at Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings, which heard the money for the propaganda blitz would come from funds previously allocated to actual infrastructure projects.

The committee heard the newspaper and television campaign would run between now and August, just before the federal election campaign.

This would be just cynical if it was from the Government’s advertising Budget.

But it is completely outrageous that these advertisements will be funded by cuts to actual infrastructure investment.

New Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester must immediately stop this absurd campaign and redirect the funding back into infrastructure, including for the Pacific Highway upgrade.

No doubt these advertisements will be aimed at pretending the Coalition Government had something to do with the massive $7.6 billion Pacific Highway program of the former Labor Government, which delivered the Kempsey, Ballina and Buladelah bypasses and the Sapphire to Arrawarra upgrades.

The Coalition has already reduced funding for the Pacific Highway.

In its 2015 Budget, the Coalition Government cut Pacific Highway funding for this financial year by $130 million.

Given the slowdown, the last thing Pacific Highway users want is slick advertisements designed to rewrite history.

What they do want is actual progress on actual construction – real outcomes and not lame excuses.

For more than two years the Government has desperately tried to hide its failures on the Pacific Highway with an ongoing Magical Infrastructure Re-announcement Tour, in which it has re-announced old projects funded by the former Labor Government to pretend they are new.

People on the NSW coast will know that every time they see a Government advertisement that will have been funded using money that has been taken away from actual infrastructure construction.