Pressure builds to fix highway
AS the screws turn on politicians to finally act on the Pacific highway death zones, the tension has boiled over.
Member for Oxley and Shadow minister for Roads Andrew Stoner hit back savagely against claims made yesterday by Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades that no MPs had contacted NSW Roads Minister David Borger in the wake of the last three accidents at Hungry Head.
Cr Rhoades had a meeting with Mr Borger on Tuesday.
Mr Stoner said he had written to David Borger after the first spate of accidents on that stretch of highway seeking both a review of the speed limits at intersections like Valla Beach and Valla and the construction of median barriers along that stretch of highway.
“No wonder nobody believes anything that the Keneally Labor government or Keith Rhoades say,” Mr Stoner said.
“It is unusual that Keith Rhoades is speaking to a Labor politician about a stretch of road rather than the local member and the shadow roads minister who is none other than myself.
“It shows how close he is to the Labor Party and how prepared he is to attack Coalition members without any justification whatever.”
Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, who is currently in London, also denied the charge and called on the minister and the mayor to stop playing politics.
“It is high time the mayor stopped being the mouthpiece for a tired Labor government and realised this is not about politics, it is about people being killed and maimed,” Mr Fraser said.
“Following Saturday’s accident, I immediately wrote to Minister Borger, requesting an urgent meeting with him.”
Mr Fraser’s office confirmed that the letter had been written on Monday morning and sent on Monday afternoon, but that he might not have received it ahead of his Tuesday meeting with the mayor.
Mr Fraser said he had also written to the Police Minister and asked them to move the Crash Investigation Unit to Coffs Harbour but had not received a reply to his request.
The Federal MP for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, raised the matter of the highway south of Urunga in the Federal parliament on Thursday.
Last week saw three serious accidents within six days on the highway south of Urunga, concentrated on a 2km stretch of undivided road.
The mayor said he discussed with the minister extending the temporary speed limit; installing wire safety fencing down the middle of the highway and relocating two speed cameras
For his part yesterday, Mr Borger issued a statement saying: “As you are aware I met with the mayor of Coffs Harbour, Keith Rhoades, yesterday to discuss issues around the Pacific Highway near Urunga,” the Minister said.
“I gave the mayor a commitment that I will get back to him in seven to 10 days, once I have had the opportunity to obtain further advice.”