Are we the forgotten coast?

THE Coffs Coast has become the 'Forgotten Coast' after another NSW state minister has been accused of sidestepping key issues affecting the region.

Following hot on the heels of Health Minister Reba Meagher's refusal to answer questions about why the Westpac life saver rescue helicopter has yet to be based in Coffs Harbour, the NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendahl is being accused of ignoring another major problem - the Pacific Highway.

The NSW Business Chamber's Mid North Coast regional office has come out firing, telling the Minister to stop snoozing, get his finger out and sign off on the highway upgrade.

Ms Meagher's reluctance to even answer our emails, six months after we first requested information, reinforces the growing view that the current State Government is totally out of touch with regional NSW.

In February Premier Morris Iemma personally promised the Advocate he would get Ms Meagher to answer our questions.

We are still waiting.

Now Roozendahl's reluctance to commit to match the Federal Government's $2.5- billion to complete the upgrade of the highway has again reinforced the call for Premier Morris Iemma to take personal responsibility for the project.

The chamber wrote to Iemma and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last month calling for both leaders to personally sign off on six-month reports detailing the progress on the road upgrade.

The proposal outlined that their personal commitment to the highway upgrade would ensure it met its complete date on schedule.

"The business community has welcomed the Federal Government's recent budget commitment to invest $2.5 billion into the Pacific Highway," said Kellon Beard of the NSW Business Chamber Mid North Coast Region.

"But the NSW Road Minister's reluctance to match that commitment raises serious questions about when the road will be completed," he added.

A survey conducted by Business Chamber in May 2007 supported the economic arguments for upgrading the Pacific Highway.

The survey found that 70 per cent of businesses believed the poor condition of the Pacific Highway had negatively impacted their business and 95 per cent said the need to finish the upgrade to the highway was extremely urgent or urgent.

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