Highway action needed
DOCTOR Ray Jones believes there is no point talking any more about the need to upgrade the Pacific Highway and concedes that protest action is now necessary.
Dr Jones travels from Mullaway to his medical practice in Grafton each day, and told Wednesday night's Highway Summit at Southern Cross University, the highway is a disgrace.
AS well as seeing many nearmisses, twice this year he has victims of the highway die in his arms.
But what really frustrates Dr Jones is the long-standing inability of politicans to fix the problem.
Sixteen years ago Dr Jones attended the Cowper bus crash which claimed 20 lives.
That tragic accident lead the then state coroner Kevin Waller, who also investigated the Kempsey bus crash which happenned six weeks later claiming 40 lives, to call for the complete upgrading of the pacific Highway to dual carriageway.
"They fixed up little bits of road, and (then state member for Clarence) Ian Causley promised me in writing he would fix the highway, but that still hasn't been done."
"What was happenning in 1989 should still not be happening now," Dr Jones said.
SCU lecturer in politics Dr Richard Hil described the carnage on the Pacific Highway as an emergency.
"If this many Australian lives were lost in Iraq there would be an outcry," Dr Hil said.
"This shows an enormous lack of leadership."
Dr Hil said what was needed was community action to get the politicans to finally act.
"The Coffs Coast Advocate's Highway hell campaign has been outstanding, the best community campaign of its type I'ver ever seen, but now it is the time for everyone to stand up and be counted."
That struck a nerve with the crowd of almost 100 at the forum who then supplied a vast range of ideas to an action plan which will try to prick the conscience of politi- cians.
Suggestions ranged from getting the speed limit reduced to 50 kilometres an hour from Englands Road to The Big Banana and to 80 kmph from there to Woolgoolga; posting the names and phone numbers of key politicans onto billboards along the highway so that local drivers could bombard them with their concerns, and the diversion of personal tax cuts to roads funding.
But the ideas which attracted the most interest centred on civil action such as a highway blockade; a goslow campaign to force traffic down to 30 kmph and a mobile protest to both Macquarie Street and Canberra.
The forum was organised by SCU's Student Association which is now convening a committee to develop a strategic plan to put the state of the highway in the national spotlight on a regular basis.
To become involved, or for more information contact the Student Association on 6659 3266 or Neville Neal on 0418 437 240.