Nationals boss vows to fix highway

HE stands to become the first North Coast-based deputy premier in 35 years, should the Coalition win government in March, and top of his list is the Pacific Highway.

Confident Labor will be ousted from power at the polls, NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner yesterday vowed to fix the Pacific Highway once and for all.

As another week of highway carnage continued to be politicised, Mr Stoner cut to the chase yesterday delivering a pre-election promise.

“As a North Coast MP, Nationals leader and hopefully deputy premier, I’m going to fix the Pacific Highway,” Mr Stoner vowed.

“The truth is that the NSW Liberals and Nationals know the problems and we are coming to fix them. I’ve had enough of local families being torn apart.”

Mr Stoner announced an O’Farrell government would deliver a $5 billion infrastructure fund called Restart NSW, spending $1.6 billion regionally.

He said a body would be formed called Infrastructure NSW, which would handle a 20-year strategic highway plan, including priorities every five years.

The announcement came after the Coffs Coast Advocate asked Mr Stoner why he was unable to meet with the Pacific Highway Taskforce in Sydney yesterday.

The taskforce, made up of North Coast mayors, has tried to meet with him twice now in Grafton and Sydney.

But Mr Stoner said he couldn’t attend either meeting because of prior commitments, as he travels the state sewing up votes.

Annoyed by the brush-off, taskforce chairman Richie Williamson called on the State Government and Coalition to show their hands on the Pacific Highway.

Cr Williamson, who’ll contest Clarence as an independent, said the highway was a pressing state election issue, and very much still a national disgrace.

“The response from the government has been poor to say the least, but what has concerned us more recently has been the inability of Opposition Roads Minister Andrew Stoner to meet with us and talk about the Coalition’s commitment,” Cr Williamson said.

“Lives continue to be lost on deadly stretches at Urunga, Ulmarra and Halfway Creek, all of these sections are still single carriageway and yet there is still no specific policy.

“Now is the time for both sides of politics to tell the community what has to be done and when they are going to do it,” he said.

In other highway news, NSW Roads Minister David Borger says a safety review will be undertaken on the deadly stretch between Warrell Creek and Urunga.

The review follows Tuesday’s fatal truck accident near Hungry Head.

Mr Borger said the Keneally Government was planning a record amount of construction on the Pacific Highway.

“The current Labor federal and state governments have committed $3.4 billion,” Mr Borger said.

“That is about 100 times the funding that the Howard government put in to the Pacific Highway, and that’s just in a couple of years,” he said.

The response from the government has been poor to say the least, but what has concerned us more recently has been the inability of Opposition Roads Minister Andrew Stoner to meet with us and talk about the Coalition’s commitment



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