Coffs needs Barnaby for progress on bypass: Mayor
COFFS Harbour's Mayor hopes the Deputy Prime Minister is able to hold on to his portfolio as Minister for Infrastructure as it would be good for Coffs Harbour.
Speaking on Triple M Coffs Coast this morning, Cr Denise Knight said Barnaby Joyce remaining as infrastructure minister while negotiations for the Coffs Harbour bypass are taking place would be a good thing.
Currently involved in a scandal about an extra-marital affair with a member of his staff and the employment opportunities the woman was afforded after that, Mr Joyce is under pressure to remain as leader of the Nationals.
Cr Knight said Mr Joyce's keen interest in the Coffs Harbour bypass means he's vital to getting the project started as soon as possible.
"We actually need him to stay there at the moment because he's very pro-Coffs Harbour and if he leaves we may get someone who just says let's look at the south coast," Cr Knight said.
The mayor was part of a high powered delegation yesterday that included Coffs Harbour City Council General Manager Steve McGrath and Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker that met with Mr Joyce and members of his staff in Canberra to discuss the Coffs Harbour bypass.
While admitting that Mr Joyce looked "incredibly browbeaten", Cr Knight told Moffee on air that Mr Joyce confirmed in the meeting that that pre-construction geotechnical and environmental studies for the project have been completed.
"He (Mr Joyce) said 'this (a Coffs bypass) is my priority'," the mayor said.
"Of course our response is when?
"Being a good politician he's not going to give us a timeline however it is in the budget so we just have to make sure that it gets pushed through."
Cr Knight added that Mr Joyce had a personal anecdote that gave him further understanding of the need for work to start on a bypass sooner rather than later.
"He did say to me that he drove up to Grafton and got stuck in Coffs Harbour. I said 'well welcome to our world'. During the holidays and the Christmas period we are at a gridlock. Our locals can't get to work on time," she said.