Member for Page Janelle Saffin and Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure, at Goonellabah on Saturday.
Member for Page Janelle Saffin and Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure, at Goonellabah on Saturday.

No commitment to highway upgrade

FEDERAL Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese has stopped short of a full commitment to complete the Pacific Highway dual carriageway upgrade by 2016.

Speaking from Goonellabah where he was opening the new skate park on Saturday morning, Mr Albanese handled a barrage of questions on infrastructure, but his only promise was to complete 85 per cent of the dual carriageway between Melbourne and Brisbane by 2014.

He did not say how much of the North Coast section would be left unfinished though it is understood that only 75 per cent of Sydney to the Queensland border will be finished.

When pushed he said the Federal Government could not be held to account for the previous government's de-funding of the project but he remained committed to the full duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2016.

“We're putting our money where our mouth is; $3.1 billion has been allocated … and that is all going towards meeting our objective of 2016 for full completion,” said Mr Albanese.

“I am concerned about comments from the opposition who have said if elected they would wind back infrastructure spending.”

At present less than half of the dual carriageway between Newcastle and the Queensland border has been completed.

Last week the coroner of the Cowper and Kempsey bus crashes criticised governments for “pussyfooting around and squabbling over who pays for what”. Three people have died on the Pacific Highway in NSW in the last three weeks.

Mr Albanese also said he had assurances from the NSW Transport Minister, David Campbell, that the Casino-Murwillumbah line would not be broken up before a feasibility study into linking it with south-east Queensland services was completed.

Page MP Janelle Saffin explained that the state legislation includes a proviso that tracks have to be disused for 15 years before they can be removed. The Casino-Murwillumbah line has been closed for four years now.



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