Opposition pollies hit the highway

THE next State election is still 12 months away but the Coalition has signalled it will make the upgrading of the Pacific Highway a major issue to secure the support of North Coast voters.

Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell has announced he will drive the stretch of highway between Ballina and Coffs Harbour next month to conduct a first-hand inspection of what needs to be done.

The Liberal leader will be joined by the three Nationals’ members whose electorates are serviced by the highway, including Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser.

“Earlier this year I accepted the invitation of my National Party colleagues and the region’s local councils to inspect the Pacific Highway again,” Mr O’Farrell said. “I am pleased to confirm we will inspect this dangerous stretch of road on April 8, 2010. NSW Liberals and Nationals MPs based on the North Coast constantly bring to my attention the poor state of the Pacific Highway. I’ve witnessed it first hand many times and continue to be astounded by its shocking condition.”

Mr O’Farrell said despite the Labor Government promising to have the highway upgraded to dual carriageway by 2006, 90 per cent of the stretch between Ballina and Coffs Harbour was still only two lanes.

“Labor’s failure is destroying communities and families. NSW needs a change of government to fix the Pacific Highway,” he said.

Mr Fraser said the Coalition will establish Infrastructure NSW to prioritise projects across the State, including on the Pacific Highway.

“Infrastructure NSW will oversee these projects and assist with formulating the right funding models to expedite the completion of the Pacific Highway,” Mr Fraser said.

Nationals Member for Ballina Don Page said for years State Labor has been unable to fulfil its promise to upgrade the entirety of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway and the cost is being paid in the lives of drivers.

“Despite Federal Governments from both sides of politics kicking in billions of dollars, State Labor has comprehensively failed on the Pacific Highway,” Mr Page said.

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