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Coffs Harbour bypass is in the slow lane

THE Federal Government yesterday shrugged off criticisms from Labor on the progress of the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway bypass. 

Labor's Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development spokesman Anthony Albanese said Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings in Canberra on Monday heard there was no chance the project would start any time before 2020, if at all.  

"The committee heard no detailed planning had been undertaken and that the NSW Government was only now beginning to turn its mind to the preparation of a business case for Commonwealth consideration," Mr Albanese told The Advocate yesterday.   

"Officials from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development said when the NSW Government produced a business case, the government 'might consider' a funding contribution."  

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Luke Hartsuyker said Mr Albanese was being "fast and loose with the truth", saying work is continuing on the NSW Government's business case for the $1billion project.  

"I have been in discussions with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Transport Minister Darren Chester on the issue of the bypass and I held significant discussions with the Prime Minister last when he was in Coffs Harbour and inspecting the Kundabung section of the Pacific Highway," Mr Hartsuyker said.   

"Detailed planning is happening across a range of areas, including geo-technical studies, traffic and planning studies and significant property acquisitions have been completed."   "Coffs Harbour is the most expensive project. It makes commercial sense for the government to complete it to maximise its return on the investment across the Pacific Highway."   

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester also issued a statement on the claims from Labor.   

"Luke Hartsuyker regularly informs me of the community interest in the Coffs Harbour Bypass and I look forward to receiving the completed business case from the NSW Government," Mr Chester said.  

Mr Albanese said nothing would happen until the completion of the ongoing duplication of the Pacific Highway, which is scheduled for 2020.  

He said the committee also heard the department had no idea how much the bypass would cost.  

The north and western sections of the proposed Coffs Harbour bypass route as it appears on the RMS website.
The north and western sections of the proposed Coffs Harbour bypass route as it appears on the RMS website.

UPDATE: ANTHONY Albanese is being 'fast and loose with the truth' according to Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Luke Hartsuyker as the Federal Government progresses plans for the Pacific Highway bypass of Coffs Harbour. 

After the $1 billion project was again raised in the Senate Estimates Committee yesterday and seized on by Labor today, Mr Hartsuyker said planning on the NSW Government's business case had been underway for some time. 

"I have been in discussions with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Transport Minister Darren Chester on the issue of the bypass and I held significant discussions with the Prime Minister last when he was in Coffs Harbour and inspecting the Kundabung section of the Pacific Highway," Mr Hartsuyker said.  

"Planning on the NSW Government's business case is underway and has been underway for some time. 

"Detailed planning is happening across a range of areas including geo-technical studies, traffic and planning studies and significant property acquisitions have been completed. 

"Extensive community consultation has also been held and there were public notices in The Advocate on August 24, 27 and 31st seeking the views of the community for the proposals of the bypass.

"I'm lobbying to get the project started as quickly as possible and the government's focus is on duplicating a number of sections of the highway.

"Saving lives has been the priority, there have been 95% reduction rates in fatalities and accidents ... so fixing those sections has been the first priority. 

"Coffs Harbour is the most expensive project. It makes commercial sense for the government to complete it to maximise its return on the investment across the Pacific Highway."  

"Labor is whinging not enough is happening on the Pacific Highway, but North Coast residents can see the pace of the work north of Woolgoolga in the Page and Cowper electorates."

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester also issued a statement on the claims from Labor today. 

"Luke Hartsuyker regularly informs me of the community interest in the Coffs Harbour Bypass and I look forward to receiving the completed business case from the NSW Government," Mr Chester said. 

Discussions on the Coffs Harbour Bypass came as the NSW Government today opened the new section of highway to traffic between Corindi Beach and Halfway Creek.

The bypass would be four lanes.
The bypass would be four lanes. Trevor Veale

 

EARLIER: THERE have been no formal discussions concerning funding for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway bypass between the Federal and State Coalition Governments, it has been claimed by the Opposition today.

Labor's spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese said Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings in Canberra late yesterday heard that there was no chance that the project would commence any time before 2020, if at all.

"In further proof that the Federal MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, has no clout within the Turnbull Government, the committee heard no detailing planning had been undertaken and that the New South Wales Government was only now beginning to turn its mind to the preparation of a business case for Commonwealth consideration," Mr Albanese told The Advocate this morning.

Officials from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development said when the NSW Government produced a business case, the Government "might consider"' a funding contribution.

But nothing would happen until the completion of the ongoing duplication of the Pacific Highway to the Queensland border, which is scheduled for 2020.

The committee also heard the department had no idea how much the bypass would cost.

Topics:  anthony albanese coffs coast coffs harbour bypass luke hartsuyker pacific highway senate estimates committee



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