Scott Morrison on ABC television in Port Macquarie.
Scott Morrison on ABC television in Port Macquarie. TREVOR VEALE

PM makes a splash in Port and bypasses Coffs

THE Prime Minister bypassed Coffs Harbour, and a firm commitment to tunnels on the bypass, and travelled to Port Macquarie instead.

The secret was pretty much out yesterday that Scott Morrison was headed for Cowper - now considered a marginal seat after decades of Nationals representation with well known independent Robert Oakeshott back in the game.

The federal electorate of Cowper has the largest number of voters in Australia and takes in the major centres of Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour. Current member Luke Hartsuyker will retire at the May 18 federal election after representing the electorate for The Nationals for more than 17-years.

When asked about a commitment to tunnels on the long-awaited bypass Mr Morrison would only say the federal government would commit to their 80 per cent share of the cost, and that he would work through details with the State Government.

While in Port Macquarie on Thursday morning he pledged a $4.5-million commitment from the Liberal and Nationals Government for the Port Macquarie tidal pool if re-elected.

He pledged his government would finish the feasibility study, finalise planning and design, and get the project done.

The Prime Minister said his Government had listened to the local community and the 18,000 people who had signed the petition to the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

"A tidal pool in Port Macquarie is one of those projects which has been talked about in the community for decades and my government and our candidate Pat Conaghan will make it a reality," the Prime Minister said.

 

Rob Oakeshott, independent candidate for Cowper in Coffs Harbour. 23 JAN 2019
Rob Oakeshott, independent candidate for Cowper TREVOR VEALE

In response to the PM's tidal pool pledge Mr Oakeshott tweeted:

"Election gifts a week before polling day will be seen by most for what they are."

The Nationals Candidate for Cowper Pat Conaghan said he had lobbied hard for a serious commitment to the project on behalf of the local community.

He said the tidal pool would deliver a significant economic and health boost for Port Macquarie.

"There is going to be widespread benefits throughout the Port Macquarie community as a result of this project," Mr Conaghan said.

"Over the course of construction there is going to be an economic boost through the creation of construction jobs, and the tidal pool will help entice more visitors to the area which has significant flow-on benefits for local small businesses."

Labor candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward said Coffs Harbour deserves a visit from the Prime Minister and some answers on the bypass.

"Where is the money for tunnels and where is some proper decision making and explaining things to the public. The National party is putting things off until after the election.," Mr Woodward said.

Mr Woodward and community groups like Coffs Bypass Action Group have raised concerns the 2020 start date will be possible given the EIS is yet to be released.

 

Andrew Woodward Labor candidate cowper. 09 MAY 2019
Andrew Woodward Labor candidate for Cowper. TREVOR VEALE