Action group wants more than just pre-election promises
COMMENTS from the deputy PM when he was in town last week have once again raised doubts that tunnels, and not cuttings, will be included in the Coffs Harbour bypass.
In the months before the State Election, Nationals candidate Gurmesh Singh, flanked by sitting member Andrew Fraser and Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro claimed they had listened to the community and that tunnels would be reinstated rather than the widely unpopular open cuttings.
But recent comments from the deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack have the Coffs Bypass Action Group wondering if the pre-election 'backflip' was just a ploy by The Nationals to shore up the seat in the face of a strong independent candidate.
In town to announce funding for the Coffs Harbour Airport Enterprise Park Mr McCormack was less enthusiastic when asked if he would commit to tunnels.
"What I can guarantee is that when the NSW government determines what it needs, what it requires, what are going to be the safest and best options for the Pacific Highway, we will work with them to deliver just that," Mr McCormack said.
Action group member Marnie Cotton was disappointed to hear this.
"Why can't the Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Prime Minister and National party leader give the all clear for tunnels? He is after all the Minister for Infrastructure and deputy leader. It is clear the majority of the Coffs community wants tunnels not cuttings and this is a burning election issue."
She says the Deputy PM's "coy" comments are in contrast to promises being made by Nationals candidates in the lead up to the federal election on May 18.
"Kevin Hogan, in the Page electorate, has delivered campaign material to our doors which states 'I joined forces with my North Coast State colleagues to ensure tunnels are included in the $1.2 billion Coffs Harbour bypass'.
"Meanwhile in Cowper, Patrick Conaghan, the new Nationals Federal candidate, has stated in a radio interview that the bypass will have tunnels saying 'the funding is there, it is guaranteed, and there are tunnels'."
She says The Nationals can't be trusted on the issue.
"How can we trust The Nationals when they continue to be unclear on the issue? It is simply outrageous and the Coffs community deserves better. Coffs Harbour doesn't need another representative who says one thing before the election, only to falter once they get in.
"We need a firm commitment now. We have already waited far too long for this bypass," Ms Cotton said.