Statement by President, Andrew Woodward
2 November 2017
SANTA CLAUS WILL HAVE A SLOW RIDE ON THE PACIFIC HIGHWAY BETWEEN PORT AND COFFS THIS CHRISTMAS
The Federal and NSW Governments appear to have bungled the crucial pre-Christmas completion of a key piece of national infrastructure as the Pacific Highway upgrade between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie won’t be completed by the end of the year as promised.
The Federal Government yesterday (Wednesday, 1 November 2017) confirmed the Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads project “is expected to open in the coming months”. The $830 million project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments and for three years has been scheduled for a late 2017 opening, as confirmed in numerous statements from both governments.
This critical piece of infrastructure will reduce accidents and human trauma, increase amenity and improve travel times. The merits of the project are not in question. The issue is that this ‘missing link’ is running late with no explanation for the bungle from either government.
Further compounding the bungle is the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, continually talking up the completion of the project, knowing full well that it wasn’t going to open this year as promised. Last week he was caught out in Senate Estimates on the Coffs Harbour bypass. Now he’s been sprung on the this project. Luke Hartsuyker’s nose is growing at a faster rate the Pacific Highway construction program.
The statement by the Federal Minister is inconsistent with current and previous statements by Mr Hartsuyker and the NSW Government:
- According to documentation online yesterday (1 November 2017) from the Roads and Maritime Authority of NSW, the project was due for completion by the end of 2017.
- The Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker told the Nambucca Guardian on 22 August 2017 that ‘the project is going great guns after being blessed with perfect weather’. The paper said “The bypass of Macksville and Nambucca Heads is being prioritised in order to help manage traffic during the Christmas holidays.”
- In December last year just before 20 kilometre long – one hour plus traffic jams where motorists waited in summer heat at Macksville, the then NSW Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, said “It’s the last year of Macksville traffic jams”.
- In November last year, Mr Hartsuyker in a News Release said: “The bridge is part of the Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads section of the Pacific Highway upgrade, which is on track to open to traffic in late 2017.”
Neither government is any position to blame the weather for construction delays. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, October’s heavier than usual rains did not make up for the second driest winter on record in NSW.
Mr Chester and Mr Hartsuyker must immediately confirm the expected completion date of the project, that is when vehicles of all types will be able to travel on all four lanes (or more) at the one time of the new section of the highway. If it isn’t open by the end of 2017 they must immediately explain why and provide an estimated date as to when general traffic can use all four lanes of the highway at the same time.
The Federal and New South Wales Government’s should accept full responsibility for this bungle. They should apologise to the people of people of the north coast as well as the hundreds of thousands of holiday makers who will be stuck in traffic jams lasting hours either side of Kempsey and Macksville at the height of what’s promised to be one of the hottest summers on record.
Both government’s must soon have in place plans to assist motorists plan cope with the traffic jams between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie over the Christmas New Year period. These plans should be disclosed in public forums for urgent community feedback by the end of November. The reputation of the NSW North Coast is at stake due to this bungle.
1. Bureau of Meteorology
- “Rainfall for New South Wales was 86 per cent below the monthly average, making it the driest September on record for the State.” BOM re July to September
- “Following on from a dry end to winter, the July to September period is now the second driest on record, with rainfall over the past three months 65 per cent below the average”
- “Much of northern New South Wales received above average rainfall, resulting in the wettest October since 2010 for the State as a whole and reducing rainfall deficits that have emerged there in recent months” BOM re October
Updated: 2 November 2017