MEETING IN COFFS: The North Coast mayors discuss their concerns with the minister yesterday.
MEETING IN COFFS: The North Coast mayors discuss their concerns with the minister yesterday.

Show the $6bn business case: MP

A TRAGIC road toll notwithstanding, the Government wants to run the numbers on a complete Pacific Highway upgrade.

NSW Regional Development Minister Ian Macdonald, who was in Coffs Harbour yesterday to talk to North Coast mayors, said a cost-benefit analysis was needed to underpin the $6 billion which has been estimated to complete the missing dual carriageway sections of the highway to the north.

He said it was not only important because of the tragic deaths, which he was sympathetic about ‘but also in terms of the economy and development of the northern regions of the state’.

The Minister said $3.6 billion worth of work was already under way on the highway and the remainder represented an expenditure of $1 billion a year for the next six years if it was to meet the Prime Minister’s February 19 commitment to complete the project by 2016.

He avoided any direct financial commitments but was encouraging the mayors to direct their lobbying to the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, and he said he would report on the meeting to the NSW Premier Kristina Keneally as soon as possible.

The four North Coast mayors have extended an open-ended invitation to the Premier to drive the Pacific Highway and see the problems for herself.

Mr Macdonald, who has also held the State Agriculture portfolio, said he had already driven the highway ‘many times’.

Clarence Valley Council mayor Richie Williamson said the meeting with the Minister had been very fruitful and had given councils guidance ‘on where to concentrate our lobbying efforts’.

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with Anthony Albanese,” Mr Williamson said.

The North Coast mayors have been active in the Pacific Highway Taskforce for the past five years.



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