2019 letterhead

20 November 2018

The Editor, Coffs Coast Advocate


The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Michael McCormack, has penned a ridiculous letter to the Coffs Coast Advocate in relation to the Coffs Harbour Bypass, once again confirming that the National Party simply doesn’t get it. 

The Coffs Harbour Bypass should have been shovel ready to go earlier this year. Instead, all we got from the National Party was a massive change of design with no believable explanation of why. The trenches not tunnels design is a social, environmental and economic catastrophe that will change forever the nature of Coffs Harbour for the worse. And yet Mr MacCormack says the community’s mounting and legitimate concerns count for nothing. 

To his letter:

  • Over-inflated claims”. When you remove a major design feature, you know, tunnels, and three of them, we’re entitled to ask why they were removed, when were they removed and by whom? Two months on, we still don’t have these answers.
  • Politically motivated misrepresentations”. I am engaging in publicly motivated representations. In the last two months, I have received over a thousand messages from the public asking me to stand up for them. I am doing that and will keep doing it. What am I meant to do? Turn these people away? They’re angry and want to fight your stupidity. 
  • Estimated costs”. I have said nothing about the costs except that you should go back to your original design and build the bypass with three tunnels for the $1.2 billion as you promised numerous times over the past five years. 
  • A thorough and transparent process”. You rushed the announcement, didn’t complete four key reports (noise, Aboriginal heritage, environment and the economy through loss of farms and jobs) and you expected us to sign off on it and be grovelingly grateful. All that’s transparent and thorough is the mismanagement of the project by the National Party. 
  • One of the strongest messages we’ve heard from the local community is they want us to get on with the job of building the bypass”. I had to read this twice. You’re not listening to the majority. The majority of the community, like Labor, want the bypass, but not at any cost. People are loud and clear, they want tunnels and not trenches. Look at the Coffs Coast Advocate reader poll – more than three-quarters of those who responded said they wanted tunnels and not trenches. 
  • What Labor won’t say is some heavy vehicles transporting dangerous goods can’t use long tunnels, meaning they’d be forced to travel through Coffs Harbour.” Wrong. 99.92 per cent of traffic will be able to use a bypass with tunnels. Fourteen vehicles a day won’t be able to use the bypass. That’s like one every 90 minutes. 

Mr McCormack also copied and pasted some anti-Labor mantra about we didn’t do this and we didn’t do that. For the record: 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. We delivered funding for Pacific Highway projects including the Kempsey Bypass, Frederickton to Eungai, Sapphire to Woolgoolga, Kundabung to Kempsey, Nambucca Heads to Urunga and Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads. The only contribution by the National Party to these was to turn up at the openings and cut ribbons.  

I won’t bother with some of the other rubbish in his letter. It doesn’t deserve a response. It is cringeworthy.

We deserve better. 

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