May 24, 2012

Question Without Notice – Pacific Highway

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (14:37):  My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Will the minister please outline the government’s commitment to duplicating the Pacific Highway? What is the government doing to support this commitment, and how has this support been received?

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:38):  I thank the member for Page for her question and for her ongoing commitment, like the member for Richmond and the member for Lyne, for ensuring that the Pacific Highway is fully duplicated. We allocated $3.56 billion in the recent budget which, if matched by New South Wales, would allow for the full duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2016. Now, you would think that that would be supported by all those who care about road safety and by all those who care about productivity. But I was surprised when listening to Senate estimates yesterday when Senator Barnaby Joyce said that we were just pork-barrelling seats on the Pacific Highway. We know that the Greens have said that the only reason why we are funding the Pacific Highway is because of donations from trucking companies. I expect them to oppose road funding but I do not expect it from local members and the National Party. I should add: if you look at what their record is. The member for Dawson has said this: ‘We’re looking at the commitment of $3.6 billion put on the table for the Pacific Highway. You can only write it down to pork-barrelling and vote buying.’

That is the attitude of the National Party towards works in the seat of the member for Cowper and the member for Paterson and other people on the North Coast of New South Wales. Well, here are the facts. There are five projects underway on the Pacific Highway. The amount of $1.6 billion, or 92 per cent of the funding for projects, is in seats held by the coalition. Only three per cent is in the electorate of Lyne and four per cent in seats held by members of the Australian Labor Party. Of the work to be done, 48 per cent is in coalition-held seats, and these people have the hide to say that it is pork-barrelling. This is in the national interest. The coalition in New South Wales are baulking from their responsibility to front up money and the coalition are attacking the allocation of money for this project. It is little wonder, given they put in $1.3 billion over 12 years and we have already got over $4.1 billion allocated up to now. They have more interest in giving Gina Rinehart a tax cut than looking after the Pacific Highway. (Time expired)