MP's anger at highway invite snub

An upgraded section of the Pacific Highway at Coffs Harbour.
An upgraded section of the Pacific Highway at Coffs Harbour. RTA/

IT'S one of the Coffs Coast's most controversial roads, a horror stretch of the highway that has claimed dozens of lives, taken years of political lobbying to address, and has cost more than $240 million to fix.

But Sunday's opening of the Pacific Highway upgrade at Bonville has produced a political bunfight after both the State member for Coffs Harbour and the Federal Member for Cowper were left off the invitation list for the official opening ceremony.

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said the lack of invitation is symptomatic of 'arrogance and ignorance'.

“Protocol has gone out the window,” Mr Fraser said.

“It's insulting that the Government had time to emboss the name of the new Minister for Roads on a plaque but not to contact the State and Federal members and advise them of the official opening.”

Minister for Roads Michael Daley opened the upgrade in his first official event as the new minister, and Mr Fraser has questioned the motive behind his office not being informed of the minister's visit.

“RTA officials claim I was on the list but it seems as if Mr Hartsuyker and I were the only two people who weren't advised,” he said.

“I've been requesting a tour of the works at Bonville since last November and I'm still waiting for a reply.

“[The State Government] can play all the games they want, but the simple fact is I'm the local member and I should have been advised.”

Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker echoes Mr Fraser's concerns.

“It's reasonable that all levels of government be represented at such an official event, so it is disappointing,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“A lot of lobbying has been done in the past by both Mr Fraser and myself to make the upgrade a priority.”

However Mr Hartsuyker said the larger issue is one of road safety.

“The upgrade at Bonville is finally open and the community now has a road that will save lives, that's the most important thing to come from this,” he said.

Minister for Roads Michael Daley said the lack of advisement was not a political snub but was actually due to 'misplaced paperwork'.

“There was a genuine error in the processing of invitations for the event, arising from the change in Ministerial arrangements,” Mr Daley said.

“I was pleased to be able to join the residents of Coffs Harbour to celebrate the opening of the new dual carriageway at Bonville.”

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