Judge's verdict on the bypass backflip
STATE Labor candidate for Coffs Harbour Tony Judge has welcomed the policy reversal by the NSW State Government and the reinstatement of tunnels in the Coffs Harbour bypass design as a triumph for people power and the persistence of local action groups.
"The decision to revert to a design with tunnels and proper noise abatement is very good news for the people of West Coffs Harbour,” Mr Judge said.
"The details of the design are still unknown, but it is a step in the right direction and it should bring some relief for many very worried residents of the affected area."
"However, the efforts of Nationals leader John Barilaro to spin a story that the backdown by the Government is because of 'work behind the scenes' by Andrew Fraser and Gurmesh Singh is a laughable attempt to claim credit for the work of others.
Mr Judge said it was clear the real heroes in this story are the local action groups who refused to accept a second-rate bypass.
"People like Rod McKelvey, Marnie Cotton, and Cowper candidate Andrew Woodward worked tirelessly to raise community awareness of the implications of a design with cuttings rather than tunnels,” he said.
"The Coffs Harbour City Council refused to be bullied and fought for the right design.
"Paul Shoker highlighted the potential damage to farms and farmers.
"Craig Murray contributed valuable engineering advice.
"They convened meetings, gathered evidence and sought expert advice. In effect, they did the job that the government should have done in the first place. It was their efforts that forced the backdown and led to a good result for Coffs Harbour."
He said in contrast National Party MPS made veiled threats to withdraw funding unless Coffs Harbour residents agreed to accept the 'cut-price' bypass and did their best to divide the community.
"It is a credit to the people in the action groups that they remained committed and focussed on getting the right result while Nationals MPs were playing politics,” he said.
"We should celebrate the victory for the people of Coffs Harbour in the government's policy reversal
"However, we should give credit to the people who deserve it, the hard working people who opposed the design with cuttings from the outset - not the Nationals politicians who were forced to back down by people power.”