Sep 22, 2012

Pacific Highway: NSW Roads Minister admits funding shortfall

Comments from the NSW Coalition Government, together with basic arithmetic, have fully exposed the Federal Coalition’s “promise” to fix the Pacific Highway as nothing more than unfunded con-job.

Not only are they proposing to delay completing the full duplication of the Pacific Highway beyond 2020 but they have not even committed enough money to do the whole job.

Even after redirecting the funding earmarked for construction of the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, Tony Abbott and Warren Truss are still at least $500 million short of the $7.7 billion that’s required.

This significant shortfall has even been acknowledged by the NSW Coalition Government.  Earlier this week, Roads Minister Duncan Gay told State Parliament that the funding in the Federal Coalition’s proposal would only be enough to complete a “majority” of the sections still to be duplicated.

This stands in stark contrast to what Mr Truss has written in his opinion piece, which appeared in local papers over recent days:

The Federal Coalition’s proposal “…delivers all of the funding needed to guarantee the Pacific Highway duplication as soon as physically possible.”

What’s more, their half a billion dollar shortfall is based on a 2016 completion date.  Any delay beyond that point – which is what Mr Abbott and Mr Truss are proposing – would only see that figure escalate even further.

I know arithmetic is not one of the National Party’s strongest suits, but surely as a former Federal Transport Minister, Mr Truss would know that the longer a project is delayed the more it will ultimately cost to deliver.

Only Federal Labor is committed to completing the upgrade of the Pacific Highway.

Since 2007, we’ve invested $4.1 billion to duplicate the Pacific Highway and in this year’s Federal Budget we made available a further $3.56 billion.  This compares to the former Howard Government’s record of just $1.3 billion over 12 years.

All we’ve ever asked of the NSW Government is that they honour their promises.  If they did so, the job could be done by 2016.