Highway let-down

An accident on the Pacific Highway.
An accident on the Pacific Highway.

IT'S the road tarred with politician's broken promises and pot-holed with numerous fatal crashes.

Wade Walker described the Pacific Highway as a war zone.

During his time as an ambulance officer he saw cars that looked like they had been blown up, countless dead bodies, and even people with head injuries so bad their brains were exposed.

Mr Walker said he was disgusted, after 25 years, that the duplication of the Pacific Highway remained an election issue.

And while the NSW State Government's minister for roads, Duncan Gay, is urging voters to "forget the crap past" and go with the Coalition in the Federal Election, the State's worst road remains unfixed with no solution offered by either party in the next term of government.

The Coalition's costings have revealed no extra funds would be spent on the Pacific Hwy under the Coalition in the next term of government.

On August 15, Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan stood in the sun by the Pacific Hwy.

"We're talking about an election now that two sides are offering two different deals," Mr Hogan said.

"The community should be very excited and ecstatic about this."

Mr Hogan said the Coalition had worked out a funding deal where the Federal Government would contribute 80% of the funds required to build the road and the State Government the remaining 20%.

"This is not rocket science, there's a very clear choice here: we either elect a federal government that wants to have argy bargy with the state about going to a 50/50 split or you elect us and say we're happy, we're going to go to 80 and let's do it."

And since Coalition treasurer Joe Hockey released his official costings yesterday, what this means has become clear. Both sides of politics will spend the same amount of money on the Pacific Hwy between 2013-17.

The difference is a Labor government will continue to fight with the State Government to try and get more money for the road, whereas the Coalition has already agreed it doesn't want "argy bargy".

The Coalition has said it will allocate money from the Parramatta to Epping rail project to the highway, claiming this means the deal means the project will be completed.

But what the costings revealed was this money would not be available during the term of government voters are about to decide.

Labour's Transport Minister Anthony Albanese highlighted this on ABC radio on Thursday.

"It's just making things up. The Parramatta to Epping rail link money is not there in the budget in any year because the State Government doesn't want to build it," Mr Albanese said.

And yesterday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told Fairfax long-term budget projections were not to be relied on. "(Treasury) think there are enormous downside risks to the projections and we just don't know where it's all going to end up," Mr Abbott said.

These facts were put to Mr Hogan's office yesterday.

"We have a funding deal with NSW and a timetable to finish the job, and these will not change," Mr Hogan's office replied. Labor has neither a funding commitment nor a timetable and under a Labor government, the highway will remain unfunded."

Incumbent Member for Page Janelle Saffin said this was untrue: "Federal Government funding is being spent and is secure. I'll get the job done."

Topics:  election 2013 pacific highway

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