May 11, 2011

Pacific Highway: Labor delivers, Coalition plays politics

Pacific Highway: Labor delivers, Coalition plays politics

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Federal Member for Grayndler

11 May 2011

The Liberal and National Parties have yet again shown that it’s more interested in playing politics than fixing the Pacific Highway, a job that should have been completed years ago.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and his National Party sidekick Luke Hartsuyker have today asserted that “only a small proportion” of the extra $1.02 billion contained in this year’s Federal Budget for the Pacific Highway is new money.

Such claims are shameful and dishonest.

Fact One: $750 million of the extra funding is new money, with the remaining $270 million having been redirected from a project elsewhere in the State with the support of the NSW Government.

Together this extra funding brings the Gillard Labor Government’s total investment in the Pacific Highway to a record $4.1 billion over seven years. This compares to the former Howard Government’s record of just $1.3 billion over twelve years.

The extra funding will also allow construction to be brought forward including on the Frederickton to Eungai section where in 2009 we committed $58 million to complete the necessary planning work.

Fact Two: if the former Government had made a financial commitment equal to the one we’re now making then this road would today be fully duplicated.

And let’s not forget, when Mr Hockey, Mr Hartsuyker and their colleagues were starving this road of much needed funding record tax revenues were flowing into the Treasury from the previous mining boom.

Fact Three: the upgrade of the Pacific Highway is now the nation’s largest road construction project, with more than 1,000 workers currently on site upgrading some 69 kilometres of road.

Projects currently underway:

• Duplication of the road at Glenugie, with work expected to be completed in 2011 – Federal contribution: $54 million;

• Construction of the Ballina Bypass, with work expected to be completed in 2012 – Federal contribution: $421 million;

• Duplication of the road between Sapphire and Woolgoolga, with work expected to be completed in 2013 – Federal contribution: $610 million;

• Construction of the Bulahdelah Bypass, with work expected to be completed in 2012 – Federal contribution: $284.8 million;

• Construction of the Kempsey Bypass, with work expected to be completed in 2013 – Federal contribution: $618 million;

• Upgrade and realignment of the road at Banora Point, with work expected to be completed in 2012 – Federal contribution: $347 million.

In addition, work will start on the following major upgrades during the coming financial year (2011-12):

• Duplicating the road between Tintenbar and Ewingsdale – Federal contribution: $566 million;

• Duplicating the road at Devils Pulpit – Federal contribution: $62 million.

The history surrounding the Pacific Highway yet again proves that Labor governments always invest more in infrastructure than conservative governments – and the Gillard Labor Government is no different.