Hapless infrastructure Minister Warren Truss must commit to lifting funding for the duplication of the Pacific Highway in May’s Budget after overseeing a 65 per cent cut in spending on the project in the past year.
In Question Time today the minister did not contest the fact that the government had allocated just $357 million on the project this year – down 65 per cent from the $1.023 billion invested by the former Labor Government in 2013-14.
Mr Abbott and Mr Truss have not allocated any additional investment to the project beyond that funded by the former Labor Government, which provided additional funding in every Budget from 2008 to 2013.
Instead, they have constantly re-announced old projects as part of an embarrassing Magical Mystery Infrastructure Re-announcement Tour and attempted to mislead the community about their actions.
Rather than continuing with these deceitful misrepresentations, Mr Truss should stand up to Mr Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey and secure additional funding in the 2015 Budget to get this project back on course.
In particular, Mr Truss should find the money for the Arrawarra to Ballina sections of the Highway, which are yet to be funded, despite his absurd claim in Question Time today that he had funded the entire project.
Motorists up and down the NSW North Coast know that it was the former Labor Government that delivered important Pacific Highway upgrade projects including the Bulahdelah, Kempsey and Ballina bypasses and the Glenugie, Banora Point and Devil’s Pulpit upgrades.
They also know that work underway on the Kundabung to Kempsey , Frederickton to Eungai, Nambucca Heads to Urunga and Tintenbar to Ewingsdale sections of the road was funded and commenced by the former Labor Government.
During the six years the former Labor Government was in office we invested $7.9 billion on the ongoing Pacific Highway upgrade.
In double that period in office the Howard Government invested only $1.3 billion in the project.