Best laid plan...

By MEL MARTIN

WHEN he dies State National Party member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser says he wants to come back as a planner.

The Bonville bypass, which includes Pine Creek, was allocated $1.5 million towards its planning in yesterday's NSW Budget, but Mr Fraser says it's time to stop planning and start building.

It was a sentiment echoed by member for Cowper Mr Luke Hartsuyker.

"This money is for planning ? yet again," Mr Fraser said.

"The Minister has failed to listen to the beseeching words of the mayors of Coffs Harbour and Bellingen and myself.

"The Bonville deviation has been in and out of the budget papers since 1997. But (the road's) recent history highlights the need for an immediate start."

Mr Fraser said the cost of planning so far added up to $12.2 million, adding up to $13.7 million with this new funding.

"If that's the cost of planning, what's the cost of life?

"This proves (Minister for Roads) Michael Costa's recent announcement was a smokescreen. They're not attending to it."

As well as $1.5 million towards the planning of the Bonville bypass, $2 million was allocated to the planning of the Coffs Harbour bypass, $980,000 to the planning of the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade, $1.5 million for Raleigh North Bound Rest Area, and $350,000 for Coffs Harbour city pedestrian safety.

Mr Hartsuyker said he welcomed any expenditure for the Pacific Highway but was disappointed by the lack of funding for construction.

"It's now time to get the bulldozers going," he said.

Overall, out of the $2.9 billion roads budget, the NSW Government has said that more than $1.5- billion is to be spent on NSW rural and regional roads, with $221 million allocated to the continuation of the $2.2 billion 10-year Pacific Highway upgrade.

"This year's total road budget of $2.88 billion is the 11th consecutive record roads budget delivered by the Carr Government, with the majority of those funds spent on roads outside Sydney," Mr Costa said.

He added councils would be given $186 million to help manage and maintain roads.

Other funding for new projects in Coffs Harbour included $1.5 million for a 20-bed non-acute mental health unit, $500,000 to State Forests, and $50,000 for video conferencing in courts.

The $7 million promised for radiotherapy services came through, albeit a bit late for Mr Fraser, while $820,000 was allocated to community services centres and $297,000 to public housing.



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