Albanese claims government has hit brakes on highway

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THE opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development has hit out at the Federal Government’s funding of the Pacific Hwy upgrade and the Coffs Harbour bypass.

Having studied the budget handed down last week by Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese claims the Coalition has slashed investment on the project.

“According to last week’s Budget documents, the Coalition will invest $1.37 billion on Pacific Hwy projects in the year to June 30 but in the 2017-18 financial year, investment will tumble to $710 million,” Mr Albanese said.

The Member for Grayndler said the investment numbers don’t match the rhetoric Coalition politicians have espoused on not just the upgrade as a whole but more specifically the long awaited bypass of Coffs Harbour.

“This is despite Coalition MPs talking up their commitment by, for example, promising action on the long-awaited Coffs Harbour Bypass, which also received no funding in the Budget,” he said.

This is a situation predicted by Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker earlier this month when asked if he expected funds to be made available for the Coffs Harbour bypass in the forward estimates.

“From a practical sense, a project the scale of the bypass would not be announced in a typical budget,” Mr Hartsuyker said last month.

“It is such a premier announcement, strategically you wouldn’t get that lost in the budget noise, you would make a separate announcement.”

Mr Hartsuyker, the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, also predicted what the reaction from the Opposition would be after the Budget.

“Labor will no doubt say ‘not a dollar in the budget for the Coffs Harbour bypass’ because I would be virtually certain there won’t be a line item in it,” he said.

Mr Albanese said in the lead-up to the Budget announcement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made noises about increased infrastructure investment to boost productivity and drive economic and jobs growth.

“But the reality does not match the rhetoric. Mr Turnbull has pushed the Pacific Hwy duplication into the slow lane,” he said.

From the Coffs Harbour Advocate, 17 May 2017.

 

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