Statement by Andrew Woodward – Labor for Cowper
11 May 2018
Labor committed to building Coffs Harbour Bypass
Labor has released more of its commitments as a part of its Budget Reply and confirmed support for funding of the Coffs Harbour Bypass.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten last night delivered his Budget Reply speech and the Opposition today is making further statements about commitments for when it attains government.
The commitment to the Coffs Harbour Bypass was announced today by the Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Stephen Jones MP.
Labor is locked into the Coffs Harbour Bypass, completing the dual divided motorway between Raymond Terrace and Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
While welcoming the need for a Coffs Harbour Bypass, the biggest disappointment is that it is starting in three calendar years time and not next year.
The Liberals and Nationals have been in Government in Sydney since 2011 and in Canberra since 2013. This project should have been shovel ready in 2018. It won’t be shovel ready until 2021 or 2022. This is astonishing.
According to Budget Papers released Tuesday night, next financial year, the Government will spend only $10 million on the project. By 30 June 2022, they will have spent only $235 million of the $971 million allocation. This means they have a remaining $736 million to spend in 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25 financial years.
They should release the funding projections immediately as to remove any confusion and doubt. What are they hiding?
The completion date touted by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Member for Cowper is potentially contradicted by the State’s chief road builder in the area, Mr Bob Higgins, of the Roads and Maritime Services who is quoted in the Coffs Coast Advocate on 20 December 2018.
“We’ve done some preliminary work to suggest it takes us about three to four years. A lot depends on what it looks like at the end, tunnels versus cuttings and all that.”
At this time, we don’t know what this project will look like “at the end”. Luke Hartsuyker hasn’t released the route, the expenditure schedule to the draft business plan. Again, what is he hiding?
And this week we learned officially, via the Coffs Harbour Advocate, that the final business case hasn’t been presented to Infrastructure Australia and they won’t even assess it until June 2019 at the earliest. What happens if they reject it?
In reality, I don’t expect we will see major works commence on this project until 2021 and it won’t be completed and opened to traffic on all four lanes until 2024 or 2025.
And watch the Nationals for their trick in saying the project is “opened” when they open one carriageway (two lanes) to traffic in both directions while the other carriageway is being built. It is a standard trick by the Nationals on road projects.
The Nationals at a federal and state level have totally mismanaged the Coffs Harbour Bypass. This is our local version of the light rail scandal in Sydney. It is one year behind schedule and $1.2 billion over budget. They’ve got form.
The Nationals owe the people of Coffs Coast and beyond an apology for their gross mismanagement of this project and for the confusion and worry, they have created for those who live near the route. We deserve better.
Statement by Stephen Jones, Shadow Minister for Regional Services
The Coalition has promised this for many years. We welcome the fact that some money has been put aside. If there’s a change of government, which clearly we are working towards, we will back the Coffs Harbour Bypass. If we are in government, that will proceed. If the money has been put in the budget, that project will proceed on our watch.
Updated: 11 May 2018