Action groups combine
By LEE McDOUGALL
A WISE man once said: 'If the puppet starts pulling the strings, who knows what will happen' and this is exactly the motivation behind the formation of the new Pacific Highway Alliance.
The Alliance was 'born' last weekend, following 12 months of informal discussion between individual highway action groups from Kempsey to the Queensland border.
Alliance spokesman Tony Gilding said the 14 community action groups, who comprise the Alliance, came to realise over the past year that they had the same issues, concerns and desired outcomes in relation to the RTA and Pacific Highway.
"Collectively the groups represent 25,000 members from Kempsey to Tugan and obviously there is strength in numbers," Mr Gilding said.
"You don't need a degree in rocket science to see that the NSW Government has failed to deliver on so many of its promises relating to the Pacific Highway."
Mr Gilding said the group hoped that by forming the Alliance, they would be able to start pulling some of the political strings attached to the RTA with the same strength currently enjoyed by transport lobby groups.
"The Alliance solution for the Pacific Highway is simple, cost effective, and will have an immediate impact on the $17 billion annual road trauma bill," Mr Gilding said.
"Fifty people a year are dying on this highway. It's unthinkable that the Government is not being held accountable for the loss of these lives."
The Alliance has a comprehensive website at www.pacifichighwayalliance.org.au that outlines the Alliance demands on the State Government and how to contact the relevant ministers in order to apply pressure.
Among the Alliance demands on the Government are:
n the setting of realistic, reduced speed limits along the entire Pacific Highway;
n safety upgrades along the existing alignment up to A-class highway standard;
n to stop the six-lane tolled motorway being built along the NSW coast;
n to make the RTA accountable for a $500-million budget overrun on Pacific Highway upgrades, and
n protection of Mid North Coast and North Coast prime agricultural lands.