EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Bypass re-Joyced with Ministerial visit
THE first visit Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce made as the new Minister for Infrastructure and Transport was to Coffs Harbour to discuss the bypass.
Mr Joyce was shown the route of the Coffs Harbour bypass late this afternoon by Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker, Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey where securing funding for the $1billion project was discussed.
"It's part of a plan that we have to do at some stage," Mr Joyce said.
"It's not a case of fanciful thinking. At some stage we're going to have to do the Coffs Harbour bypass. So what we're arguing about is not whether it's going to be done but when it's going to be done.
"What Luke, Melinda and Andrew are saying is the they want to do it sooner, so that's why I'm here to see what we can do about that."
Mr Joyce said the reason why his first visit in the role was to Coffs Harbour is very simple.
"I'm pestered to within an inch of my life by Luke Hartsuyker and I've got to make sure that we completely understand what's going on here so things such as the Coffs Harbour bypass, Section D of the Sunshine Coast highway up near Cooroy, Nowra bridge and of course the big one out west the inland rail, we've got to make sure that these projects roll ahead," he said.
"It's good to be on the site here to get a true understanding of exactly what's needed.
"It assists me, so when I go to the table on your behalf, knowing I'm also on the expenditure review committee, to clearly understand exactly what's involved with this. So it's not just a concept but more something that you can acytually say 'I've been on the site, I understand it' so it was worthwhile me coming over here."
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker said the fact Mr Joyce chose the bypass site as his first point of call with his new portfolio highlights how important the bypass is.
"Deputy Prime Minister Joyce as Minister for Infrastructure has made it his first official visit to the Coffs Harbour bypass, so important is this project to the north coast of New South Wales and Coffs Harbour,"
"It's absolutely vital that we can get trucks out of the main street so that we can move smoothly through Coffs Harbour."
It was only a matter of a couple of days ago that Mr Hartsuyker handed the strategic business plan for the Coffs Harbour to Mr Joyce within an hour of the Deputy Prime Minister being sworn in to his new role.
NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Mrs Pavey played a vital role behind that document.
"It's an important step forward so we can present information to the Federal department of industry and regional development so that we can start fighting for some of those dollars in the Federal budget for this project," she said.
Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser was his usual forthright self when talking with the Deputy PM.
"Now that you have the infrastructure portfolio we expect that you'd see the difficulties that we have here, especially with the Coffs Harbour bypass" Mr Fraser said.
"Now is the time of the year when people get so frustrated that they get killed. They can still kill themselves on the dual carriageway because they're being held up in Coffs.
"So if you haven't got your cheque book today mate, 30th of June next year would be fantastic."