Work being done on the Pacific Highway upgrade.
Work being done on the Pacific Highway upgrade. John Gass

NSW won't go halves in upgrade

THE NSW Government has rejected a call by the Federal Government for a 50/50 funding split on the remainder of the Pacific Highway upgrade, saying the Commonwealth's higher revenues meant it should bear a greater part of the cost burden.

A little over half the highway has so far been upgraded to dual carriageway, and NSW would have to immediately find more than $3 billion to match Federal contributions within the highway's current funding agreement.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese made the call for a 50/50 split in Federal Parliament yesterday.

However, a spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the Commonwealth had more money than the state and should wear a higher portion of the cost.

The spokesman said NSW wanted to maintain the existing arrangement, which had the Federal Government picking up 80% of the tab for the highway upgrade while NSW paid 20%.

"In real dollar terms (going to a 50/50 split would mean) cutting the Federal Government contribution by approximately $2.3 billion", the spokesman said.

"Considering the Commonwealth's large revenue base and its expenditure on projects such as the National Broadband Network (forecasted to be $36 billion) and the Building Education Revolution ($16 billion), this attitude towards funding the upgrade to arguably the nation's most important transport and freight link is disappointing."

The spokesman said the two levels of government were still negotiating the funding split, but suggested the Federal Government's move to change the funding balance was motivated by politics.

"It's disappointing that when there was a State Labor Government in power the Federal Labor was happy to increase funding, but now there is a NSW Liberals & Nationals Government in power Federal Labor wants to cut its funding share dramatically," he said.



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