Coalition quiet on highway funding
AT THIS stage, a vote for the Coalition in the next Federal election is not necessarily a vote for a fast-tracked completion of the Pacific Hwy.
Despite all the theatre that has taken place since Tuesday's state budget announcement, there is no guarantee the Liberals and Nationals will provide Pacific Hwy funding that is any better than the Gillard Government is offering.
When asked this week what a Coalition government could offer the people of Cowper regarding the most contentious piece of road in the country, neither local Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker or Nationals leader Warren Truss would commit to giving constituents a better Pacific Hwy deal.
This is despite the words of opposition leader Tony Abbott on January 9 after the tragic death of a young boy in Urunga: "I'm very happy to be bipartisan about finishing the Pacific Hwy as quickly as possible."
These words now appear empty.
As the Shadow Minister for Transport, Mr Truss indicated during the week the vital infrastructure will take the best part of a decade before it is finished. More than 30 years after the tragic Clybucca and Cowper bus crashes that claimed the lives of 56 people.
Hardly a finish date that suggests Mr Abbott is keen to uphold his "as quickly as possible" statement.
The Nationals leader was also unable to commit to a percentage of the funds that the Coalition intends to spend on the upgrade. "When we come to government, we will have to negotiate that with NSW," he said.
The office of Mr Hartsuyker said at this stage the next Federal election wasn't expected until the second half of 2013 and a Coalition policy regarding funding for the highway would be released closer to polling day.
The local member did indicate that no matter who is in charge of taxpayer purse strings the necessary funds should be found.
"My view is that every government should be committing the maximum possible amount towards upgrading the Pacific Hwy," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"North Coast residents just want the road duplicated just as quickly as possible."
If the Coalition is voted into power next year, just how quick that will be is currently the great unknown.