Latest news

4 April 2019: News Release: Patrick Conaghan continues the Coffs Harbour truth bypass and displays little knowledge of how government works.

2 April 2019: News Release: Coffs Harbour Bypass – underfunded and delayed

7 March 2019: News Release: What Michael McCormack should really be doing when he visits Coffs Harbour on Monday

6 March 2019: News Release: Further blow to the Coffs Harbour Bypass – the Nationals back down on funding for tunnels in this year’s federal budget

6 March 2019: News Release: Revealed – Nationals backing away from tunnels for Coffs Harbour Bypass

31 January 2019: News Release: The Coffs Harbour Bypass cover-up continues

15 January 2019: News Release: Coffs Harbour Bypass Version 2.0

The situation

Federal Labor is 100 per cent committed to delivering the Coffs Harbour Bypass. 

Bypass Version 1.0

The federal government announced $971 million in funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass on 8 May 2018. This is known as Bypass Version 1.0.

In the same week, Labor announced it would honour that commitment in Government. Labor’s announcement was covered on the front page of the Coffs Harbour Advocate on 12 May 2018.

You can hear the original announcement on ABC Radio.

There’s no new funding commitment from a state government required at this time because the state allocated its $200 million in early 2015.

The only ‘new money’ is $971 million from the federal government announced by May 2018 and, as stated, Labor has agreed to that.

Bypass Version 2.0

On 15 January 2019, the state government, and not the federal government, announced what’s known as Bypass Verison 2.0, inclusive of “tunnels”.

We still don’t know if there is an additional cost for the tunnels as announced on this day. The Nationals are keeping this secret.

And the government has many questions still to answer about the Bypass Version 2.0.

Are the tunnels zero dollars, tens of millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars? They know. And we know they know. Again, the Nationals are keeping this secret.

If there is an additional cost, we need to know. Where’s the money coming from? Will it be included in the federal budget on 2 April 2019? Apparently, it will be. The secrecy has to stop.

Labor’s position on Bypass Verison 2.0

The NSW Government must now come up with a revised design, inclusive of three tunnels; cost it, and obtain community support for version two.

When we see what’s proposed, at what cost, and we know what the community thinks of it, we will be in a position to consider it.

The true cost of the revised Coffs Harbour Bypass needs to be included in the federal budget to be delivered in April. The NSW Nationals candidate for Coffs Harbour, Mr Singh, on 30 January 2019 said he ‘assumed’ this would be the case (see 31 January 2019 news release).

When we see the design, the cost and the community’s view to both, we will be in a position to consider it.

We’re not considering anything that:

  1. Hasn’t had all of the work done (like reports on the impact residents (particularly noise), the built environment, the natural environment, Aboriginal heritage, agriculture, the local economy and housing prices.)
  2. Hasn’t been designed
  3. Hasn’t been reviewed by the community
  4. Hasn’t been costed
  5. Hasn’t been released by the government

No responsible or credible government, opposition, party or candidate would agree to fund something sight unseen. Labor is not in the business of writing blank cheques.

The ball is with the federal and state Liberal and National parties. They have botched this to date and have much work to do. The shambles has to stop.


Federal Labor is 100 per cent committed to delivering the Coffs Harbour Bypass: 

  • The commitment to the $971 million is locked in and has been on the record for nine months.
  • If there is an extra cost, the current government needs to provide for it in this year’s federal budget on 2 April 2019.
  • When we see a full proposal from the current government for any extra costs, we will consider it.

We are proud of our record on the Pacific Highway. The former federal Labor Government invested $7.9 billion on the Pacific Highway – six times the amount the former Howard Government invested over 12 years. The current government has only pledged $971 million for any Pacific Highway works, that being the Coffs Harbour Bypass and that doesn’t start until 2020/21 financial year.

The Nationals need to stop the truth bypass in Coffs Harbour.

My position prior to the change of policy

The period for public consultation on the Preferred Concept Design concluded on Friday, 30 November 2018. It is understood, an Environmental Impact Statement will be released “mid-year”. We’re in the dark as much as you.

Labor’s position is very clear:

  1. We support the project in principle; its route but not the design without tunnels.
  2. The federal government should build the three tunnels as promised within the $1.171 billion budget. The dangerous goods vehicle argument is a furphy.
  3. If the tunnels cost more than previously envisaged, the federal government should explain that and the community can then have a discussion about options.
  4. The federal government should release the full Preferred Concept Design Report and not just the Summary Report. (Updated 17/12/2018 – it turns out there is no report)
  5. The federal government should have insisted the public consultation period remains open for at least a month after all relevant reports have been completed and are available to the public for consideration.
  6. Only after these reports are complete, the NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) should be ordered to come up with a revised Preferred Concept Design for public consultation.
  7. It is only after the community knows the full story and sees an updated design from the RMS that everyone can consider the options and costs.

The Nationals need to stop the truth bypass in Coffs Harbour.

Labor Candidates’ Submission (24 October 2018)

News releases (29 October 2018 to 31 December 2018)

Response to Coffs Bypass Action Group (29 October 2018)

Posts prior to 22 October 2018

1 The problems with the Coffs Harbour CBD bypass

The CBD Bypass was forecast to cost between $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion. The federal and state governments have allocated only $1.2 billion for this project.

As a result, three “potential tunnels” in the 2016 preliminary concept design have been dumped from the 2018 concept design. They have been replaced with three cuttings and two land bridges. These are huge trenches or canyons.

This is not good enough. This is a short-sighted decision with 100 years of ramifications. These can be afforded. The federal government and the state government have plenty of room to move financially at present. The federal government recently shelved its $80 billion in big business tax cuts and the NSW government just got $9.3 billion from the sale of 51 per cent of West Connex. Why are tunnels good enough for West Connex in Sydney but not in Coffs Harbour? Why are we being singled out for the consequences of a century of environmental and social vandalism?

This decision negatively impacts:

  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Residents’ amenity – on up to 1,000 properties
  • Property prices – on up to 1,000 properties
  • Nature – habitats, flora and fauna, including koalas
  • The aesthetics of the coast and hinterland
  • Agricultural properties

It is a bad decision and we as a community have to do several things:

  • Participate in community meetings.
  • Put in submissions on the preliminary plan by the start of the last week in October.
  • Review the Environmental Impact Statement in December 2018.

2 Labor’s position

Labor believes the government should invest in tunnels rather than trenches. The NSW Minister for Roads should send Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) back the drawing board and demand they come up with a design featuring three tunnels for the same price tag. They can do it.

We shouldn’t suffer a century of regret because of short-term politically expedient acts of environmental and social vandalism by this generation of National Party hacks. This is the sell-out of the century.

In the meantime, we urge the community to inform itself of the proposal and put in submissions before they close at the end of October. The community should also let its opinions be known to Luke Hartsukyer, Andrew Fraser, Melinda Pavey and the two incoming National Party candidates (replacing Mr Hartsuyker and Mr Fraser).

Labor will review the Environmental Impact Statement when it is released in December and hopes and anticipates it will recommend three tunnels within the current budget, on social, environmental and economic grounds.

Labor is concerned that the current public consultation period falls within school holidays and doesn’t allow sufficient time for the public to consider, coalesce and respond. Further, the Environmental Impact Statement is due for release and finalisation over the Christmas and New Year periods (and just before the March state election and May federal election). The timetables set are unacceptable and more time must be given to the public to be robustly engaged in the process.

All in all, both governments and the RMS need to head back to the drawing board.

3 Engage

Contact us

4 Community organised public meeting

These have concluded.

5 Government and Roads and Maritime Services (NSW Government Agency) Community Consultation

Community consultation closes 26 October 2018. Source: RMS

Government RMS Community Information Sessions

  • 13 October 2018 – 9 am to 12 pm
  • 18 October 2019 – 4 pm to 7 pm
  • Coffs Harbour Golf Club.

Source: RMS

Government background information

6 Labor’s statements (since 24 September 2018)

24 September 2018 #1: News Release: Ten questions for Michael McCormack about the Coffs Harbour Canyon

24 September 2018 #2: News Release: Coffs Harbour Bypass – the sell-out of the century

25 September 2018: News Release: For the record – The National Party’s promises on the Coffs Harbour Bypass

26 September 2018: Letter: Response to a Coffs resident asking for previous CBD bypass routes to be examined due to the missing tunnels

27 September 2018: News Release: the Coffs Harbour Bypass “Preferred concept design” is totally flawed and should be trashed

27 September 2018: News Release: Coffs Harbour Bypass design is higher, noisier and uglier than first thought.1 October 2018: News: Andrew Fraser admits he hasn’t even looked at the new bypass design a week after its release.

3 October 2018: News Release: The National Party needs to stop complaining about the poor reaction to the Coffs Bypass and get a new design with real tunnels and not trenches

8 October 2018: News Release: Governments must obtain consensus on bypassing Coffs Harbour

11 October 2018: News Release: Federal and state governments caught red-handed misleading about the Coffs Harbour Bypass.

12 October 2018: News Release: bypassing Coffs Harbour – next steps

14 October 2018: Blog: Should an alternative route for the Coffs Harbour Bypass undergo re-examination?

18 October 2018: News Release: Where are the missing models?


Radio Triple M



25 September 2018, NBN-TV News reporter, Dennis Driver, interviews Sue Strodl from Jensen Close; watched on by neighbours concerned about the ‘bypass’.

7 Debunking the nonsense from the governments

The height of the roadway

This map shows the location of major cuttings and land bridges. The cuttings are 50m to 75m deep. The colours give you an indication of the height of the road compared to the residential areas and show how elevated it is without tunnels but with cuttings.

This is not a tunnel (as claimed by the governments)

Melinda Pavey said at Monday’s news conference that we’re getting two tunnels. This is not true.

No tunnels because of dangerous goods vehicles

The governments say we can’t have tunnels because of dangerous goods trucks. This is for a 483m tunnel up near Byron. Double these numbers for Coffs. We’re talking just over one truck an hour. And this is their justification for ruining the lives of thousands?

We can’t have tunnels because the rock is too hard

The governments say the Coffs bypass can’t have tunnels because the rock is too hard (yes, really). Well, they were able to build tunnels on the nearby Dorrigo branch railway line nearly 100 years ago ago. Why not now? in the country that gave birth gave birth to BHP and a huge mining industry can build tunnels through rock.

Updated: 15 October 2018