News Release: Santa Claus will have a slow ride on the Pacific Highway between Port and Coffs this Christmas.u

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Statement by President, Andrew Woodward

2 November 2017


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

2. Darren Chester News Release, 1 November 2017

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3. RMS web site, 1 November 2017

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4. RMS web site,1 November 2017

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5. Luke Hartsuyker in Nambucca Gardian, 22 August 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 8.09.56 am.png6. ABC on 14 December 2016

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7. Luke Hartsuyker News Release, 18 November 2016

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Additional information

Updated: 2 November 2017

Luke Hartsuyker has a truth bypass over the Coffs Harbour Bypass



Statement by Andrew Woodward, President

24 October 2017


The Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, has let fly with a mind boggling and embarrassing response to confirmation that the Coffs Harbour Bypass is not on the federal government’s construction program.

A senior public servant yesterday in response to Labor questions told Senate Estimates that there was no start date, no business case, no plan, no estimated cost and no allocated funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass. The transcript speaks for itself (and can be watched on the Coffs Harbour Advocate web site).

Today, in the Coffs Harbour Advocate, Mr Hartsuyker accused Labor’s Anthony Albanese of being ‘fast and loose with the truth’ when sharing facts from the Senate Estimates  hearing. An inspection of the transcript confirms Mr Albanese’s account of the exchange.

Once again, we have Luke Hartsuyker doing a truth bypass on the Coffs Harbour bypass. He needs to be honest and confess to misleading the people of Cowper. He’s been caught out, once again.

After 16 years in the job and nothing to show for it on the bypass, he’s reverted to just making things up about it. The truth is he’s had nothing more than than informal chats with others about the project and it hasn’t reached the stage of formal evaluation by Canberra.

Mr Hartsuyker repeatedly gives every indication the Coffs Harbour Bypass is a priority for the Government:

  • Coffs Harbour Advocate, 24 October 2017: ‘He wants the bypass to start’ “as quickly as possible”.
  • Coffs Harbour Advocate, 23 April 2017: “Mr Hartsuyker said he can’t say with any certainty what is in or out of the budget but he’s confident that when Scott Morrison reveals this country’s economic and fiscal outlook, including expenditure and revenue estimates for the current financial year, the budget year and three forward financial years, any funds set aside for the project Coffs Harbour has waited more than a generation for will be hidden.”
  • News Release: 23 March 2016: “The Coffs Harbour Bypass is a step closer…”.
  • News Release: 23 October 2015: “Construction of the Coffs Harbour Bypass will…”

I would take the word of senior public servant over Luke Hartsuyker any day. What’s worse, is that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull played along with Luke Hartsuyker’s silly charade when he visited in September.

Both Mr Turnbull and Mr Hartsuyker knew the truth; mislead the people of Cowper with fancy word-work and gave the impression that this was a priority project. The facts presented in Senate Estimates are unambiguous and prove it isn’t even a formal project.

Mr Hartsuyker needs to stop bypassing the truth about the bypass and be honest with the people of Cowper.

Resources #1

Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee

23 October 2017, Canberra, Partial Transcript. Source CCA

Senator: Can you please advise if the Federal Government has seen a detailed plan for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.

DTRD Official (Sarah Leeming): “We have not Senator. There hasn’t been a formal approach to the Australian Government for funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.”

Senator: “Is there any discussion about a commencement date”?

DTRD Official: “It is a bit premature. A logical time to do that is around 2020. If there was a decision to fund it”.

Resources #2

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Resources #3

Update 26 October 2017

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Updated: 26 October 2017



News: NSW State by-elections paint ugly picture for NSW North Coast Nationals


NSW State by-elections paint ugly picture for NSW North Coast Nationals

Statement by Andrew Woodward, President, Bellingen River Labor, Sunday, 15 October 2017

“The two rural state by-elections in NSW at the weekend paint an ugly picture for the Nationals on the north coast.

“Certainly, by-elections always swing harder but this was above the norm – 10 per cent in Cootamunda to Labor and nearly 20 per cent in Murray.

“And these results come just days after the latest Newspoll showing support for the federal government in the regions has fallen from 44 to 34 per cent since last year’s election.

“The federal and NSW Nationals are in free-fall. This is an ominous warning to complacent federal and state nationals on the mid-north and Coffs Coast.

“They’re on track to lose two of their three north coast federal seats and the seat of the NSW Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, has moved from the safe to the marginal column.

“They keep telling us they get the message. They don’t. They will get it full force on their election days.”


Swings against Nationals (TPP)

  • Murray – 19.6% to SFP
  • Cootamundra – 10.1% to Labor

Federal Seats – National Margin

  • Page 2.3%
  • Cowper 4.5%
  • Lyne 11.6%

State Seats – Nations Margin

  • Oxley 11%
  • Coffs Harbour 14%
  • Port Macquarie 19%




Revealed – the nuclear lobby’s maps for reactors on the NSW North Coast, which align with the NSW Nationals nuke push.

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Posts from the NSW Shadow Minister for the Environment, Labor’s Penny Sharpe MLC:

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The list ‘pro nuclear advocates‘ are pushing:Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 11.49.32 am.png

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Post – 6 August 2017: You can’t trust The Nationals on Coal Seam Gas or nuclear

Post – 22 May 2017: So where in Cowper is the Nuclear power plant going?

Updated: 12 October 2017

News: Utopia comes to #Coffs Harbour with @nbn_australia Local . #cowper #auspol

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Statement by Andrew Woodward, President, 10 October 2017

“The insults just keep coming from Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals.  With today’s” NBN Local” announcement they’ve proven they’ve gone down the lazy route of PR and selfies instead of fibre to where it needs to go.

“We don’t need spin from the government – we need fibre to our homes. They are totally out of touch. We need a sensible long term investment and roll-out as originally envisaged by Labor and reaffirmed at the 2016 election.

“So instead of investing millions in fibre to outside of our homes, the government is investing millions in PR spin to make us think they’re doing a good job. This is like that ABC satirical comedy Utopia. Utopia has come to Coffs Harbour thanks to the Malcolm Turnbull, the Nationals and NBN.

Look at the language:

  • “community relations professionals”
  • “The nationwide team will spend time on-the-ground in regional locations”
  • “to better understand the telecommunications needs at a community level”

“Today they tell us they ’spend time on-the-ground in regional locations’. This nothing more than spin for we land on the first flight and leave on the last flight and do a few tweets and facebook posts while here at The Jetty.

“The NBN announcement is laughable. It is a pre-election stunt from the government to try and quell the growing discontent with the shambolic NBN. They should be investing in fibre to the curb instead of fibre to the node and fixed wireless where fibre is feasible and available.

“And let’s be honest, the issue is not what the NBN “local team” has been set-up to address. This is just the same people on the same seats with new business cards administering the same dud roll-out. The issue is bad policy thanks to Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and the Nationals.

“Just days ago, Malcolm Turnbull went on radio and proudly defended that his second-rate copper broadband is, in fact, not worse than Kenya’s. With the bar set so low by this out of touch Prime Minister, it is little wonder residents in Coffs Harbour and beyond feel let down. Malcolm Turnbull must start listening to consumers, fix his broadband mess, and focus on internet access in Coffs Harbour, not Kenya.