After more than 6,000 days as the the Cowper MP and years of talk, Tuesday night's Federal Budget is time for Luke Hartsuyker to deliver funding for the Coffs Harbour bypass. (Digitally Altered Image)
After more than 6,000 days as the the Cowper MP and years of talk, Tuesday night's Federal Budget is time for Luke Hartsuyker to deliver funding for the Coffs Harbour bypass. (Digitally Altered Image) PeopleImages

It's time to deliver a highway bypass for Coffs Harbour

WILL the Federal Budget bypass Coffs Harbour?

Tuesday could be the night Coffs Harbour's three decade wait for a bypass will end.

Today marks 6020 days since Luke Hartsuyker was first elected as the Member for Cowper, but Tuesday's Federal Budget announcement by Treasurer Scott Morrison will be the most important evening of Mr Hartsuyker's time in office.

The 2018-19 Federal Budget will include forward estimates up to the 2021-22 financial year - right in the sweet spot of when construction of the Coffs Harbour bypass is due to start.

Either Mr Hartsuyker will finally deliver a promise of funding for the Coffs Harbour bypass or he won't.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack told the Advocate he "is working closely with local MP Luke Hartsuyker to ensure any concerns from local residents are addressed".

Leading up to last year's Federal Budget, Mr Hartsuyker told the Advocate that funding for "the bypass would not be announced in a typical budget", adding that "strategically you wouldn't get that lost in the budget noise, you would make a separate announcement".

Roads and Maritime Services has released an interactive map showing the proposed route for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Hwy Bypass.
Roads and Maritime Services has released an interactive map showing the proposed route for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Hwy Bypass. RMS

In the year since the last budget, there's been no sign of a separate announcement.

That puts pressure on the Turnbull Government's budget.

This week there's been confirmation the finalised business case for the bypass has been submitted by Roads and Maritime Services to Infrastructure Australia.

News of the draft business case's finalisation in December was followed a couple of days later by a pre-Christmas visit by then Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, who made inspecting the proposed bypass route his first point of call after he was sworn in as the minister.

In a column he wrote for The Australian in early February, Mr Joyce wrote: "The next priority projects will be to bypass the remaining bottlenecks such as Coffs Harbour in NSW, north of Gympie in Queensland and the Newcastle section".

The final details of the budget won't be known until Tuesday, but Mr Hartsuyker said he's confident he's done all he can to secure the necessary funding for the bypass.

BYPASS BRIEFING: Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack was briefed on the Coffs Harbour bypass by Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker.
BYPASS BRIEFING: Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack was briefed on the Coffs Harbour bypass by Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker. Contributed

"I have continued to fight for funding for the Coffs Harbour bypass and lobby colleagues like the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister so they can see the urgent need for funding in next week's budget," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"We will have to wait and see what will be announced on budget night and in the weeks following the budget."

The voters of Coffs Harbour will wait with anticipation for news from Tuesday's budget announcement on whether funding for a Coffs Harbour bypass will finally be made available.



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