The Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass is shaping up to be the key election issue in the seat of Cowper.
The Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass is shaping up to be the key election issue in the seat of Cowper. TREVOR VEALE

Labor commits to a Coffs Harbour Bypass

THE gloves are off in the battle for Cowper with the Coffs Harbour Bypass the trigger point for a war of words.

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker last night seized on Bill Shorten's Budget reply speech, pointing out that the Opposition Leader failed to mention the Coffs Harbour Bypass, after it was a focal point of Treasurer Scott Morrison's Budget delivery.

"Bill Shorten gave his Budget Reply speech, where he spent 30 minutes detailing Labor's reckless spending plan to the Parliament, but not once did he even mention the Coffs Harbour Bypass," Mr Hartsuyker said.

 

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker.
Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker. Matt Deans

"The Labor Party was given a clear opportunity to commit funding to the Coffs Harbour Bypass, and they failed to do so. It didn't even rate a mention, amongst a litany of city-based infrastructure projects.

Mr Hartsuyker said that Labor just couldn't deliver for the electorate of Cowper.

"My Labor opponent likes to talk a big game. He puts out press release after press release on the Coffs Harbour Bypass, but it seems he can't put his money where his mouth is."

 

Labor's candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward.
Labor's candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward. Rachel Vercoe

Labor's man in Cowper Andrew Woodward hit back, calling Mr Hartsuyker's comments 'naive and stupid.'

"The Budget reply was a 30-minute television piece and Luke expects the Opposition Leader to cover every project happening around the country?" Mr Woodward said.

"The people of Cowper have been hoodwinked by the Government's bypass announcement this week.

"The government's own budget estimates show of the $971 million commitment, only $10 million will be released next year, and a total of $235 million by June 30, 2022 so therefore the remaining $736 million will be released in the final 18-months of the project, which I think is dam near impossible.

"After 18 years of planning the project should be shovel ready tomorrow. Based on the funding releases the bypass under the government won't be finished until 2024-25.

No need to #beepforabypass anymore Coffs Harbour.
No need to #beepforabypass anymore Coffs Harbour. Matt Deans

This morning Labor's Regional Services spokesman Stephen Jones confirmed the Shorten Opposition would commit to the project if elected at the upcoming Federal Election.

"The Coalition has promised this for many years we welcome the fact that some money has been put aside," Mr Jones said.

"I think the construction commencement date is around 2020 if there is a change of government, which clearly we are working towards we will back the Coffs Harbour Bypass.

"If we are in government that project will proceed, the money has been put in the Budget, that project will proceed on our watch," he told ABC Radio.



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