High speed rail a game changer: Albanese
ANTHONY Albanese, a long time advocate for a high speed rail line that connects Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne said the project with a stop at Coffs Harbour would provide a tremendous boost for the region.
There was one phrase the opposition spokesperson for Infrastructure and Transport used several times in Coffs Harbour this afternoon while discussing the project: "game changer".
"Now what we know is that if Coffs Harbour was put well under two hours from Brisbane and Sydney it would be an absolute game changer," Mr Albanese said.
"If you think about international visitors being under two hours from this fantastic region but significantly as well domestic tourists spending a weekend in Coffs.
"You could literally get on a train at 7am in the morning and be here before nine on a Saturday and travel back on a Sunday, or come after work on a Friday evening. It would change the whole nature of tourism here in the region."
What both disappoints and frustrates Mr Albanese is that the current government doesn't share his passion for high speed rail or seems to have the will to debate it.
On Tuesday Mr Albanese's Private Member's Bill establishing a High Speed Rail Authority was blocked for debate.
"Even with no other business, not a single other bill before the Parliament, the government wouldn't debate it or vote on it," he bemoaned.
Would you change the way you vote if Anthony Albanese was the leader of the Labor Party?
This poll ended on 22 April 2016.
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Some projections for the High Speed rail project have come in with costings in excess of $110billion.
Mr Albanese admitted it's a massive task but said taking the first steps now is the best course of action.
"What you need to do is preserve the corridor. You need to be sensible about it. You need to acknowledge there will be a cost to it," he said.
"There will be some value capture, sure, but there needs to be a government contribution as well and the first step is preserving the corridor, establishing authority and getting the planning right."
Another bugbear of Mr Albanese's when it comes to issues close to this region's heart is spending on the Pacific Hwy.
He said the current Coalition Government has failed the North Coast with its go-slow approach to upgrading the Pacific Hwy pointing to funding cuts for the upgrade.
He's accused the Government in the almost three years since being elected of failing to
fund a single new project on the Pacific Hwy while cutting funding for the 2015-16 financial year by $130 million in its last budget.
"It took a Federal Labor Government to do the works on the Pacific Hwy including the Kempsey Bypass and including the Sapphire to Arrawaara section of the highway that were all promised, funded, built and almost opened in Arrawarra's case under the Labor Government, and the other sections around Urunga and Frederickton to Eungai that were funded and commenced under the former Labor Government."