A letter from the Roads and Maritime Services NSW (RMS) reveals the National Party has again lied to the people of Coffs Harbour in declaring it is committed to building tunnels on the Coffs Harbour Bypass.

On 15 January 2019, the NSW National Party, led by its leader and Deputy Premier announced a new design which “will feature tunnels”. (Source: News Release)

The RMS in a letter of 26 February 2019 states tunnels are merely subject to “investigations” rather than definite. Based on the contents of this letter, the Nationals have again lied. (See below: “Letter from RMS”)

The mismanagement, arrogance, spin and lies from the Nationals are out of control.

At tonight’s Coffs Harbour Bypass Action Group candidates’ forum, the National Party Candidate for Cowper, Mr Patrick Conaghan, must:

  • Confirm the federal and state governments have definitely given the RMS a brief to include three ‘real’ tunnels or confirm the tunnels are merely subject to “investigations”.
  • Confirm the design of three tunnels will definitely be ‘twin-tube’ or similar ‘real’ runnels – comparative in design and length to the 434-metre long tunnel St Helena Tunnel at Byron Bay (and not ‘fake tunnels’ such as a land bridge or cut and cover design).
  • Confirm the federal budget on 2 April 2019 will definitely include additional funding for ‘real’ tunnels design, as stated by the NSW Nationals candidate on 30 January 2019 (Source: Minutes of the state candidates’ forum)
  • Detail the estimated additional cost of tunnels and estimate the separate amounts the federal government and the state government will contribute.
  • Explain comments in the media attributed to the state Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser: “the State Government would inject a further $300 million into the project to see total costings capped at $1.5 billion”. (Source: Coffs Coast Advocate). Is this true?
  • Publicly release his submission to RMS as a part of the public consultation period (which closed 30 November) or confirm he didn’t submit one and explain why. Labor did (download).

The Nationals and their government agencies are getting worse and worse on the Coffs Harbour Bypass. You can’t believe a word they say. The Nationals must stop the truth bypass in Coffs Harbour.

Letter from the RMS

A letter written on 26 February 2019 by the RMS Director for Northern Region and the bureaucrat leading the Coffs Harbour Bypass project twice said that tunnels were merely a matter of investigation. (Source: Letter)

The NSW Government announced in January this year that Roads and Maritime Services would investigate further design options in response to this feedback (received during public consultation). Tunnels, a lower grade line, noise mitigation and reducing the height of the viaduct over the north coast railway line are being included as a part of these investigations. It is important for the community to understand the concept design is being reviewed and has not yet been finalised.” (Bold text is my emphasis). No, the Nationals did not announce tunnels would be subject to “investigations” – they said the design “will feature tunnels”.

Causing further alarm is that the RMS in its letter is saying the discredited September 2018 concept design is merely “being reviewed”. How does this stack up against the statement by the Nationals on 15 January 2019 that the bypass will feature “other significant design improvements”.  

The RMS in its letter also stated: “It is important to note the 2008 Connell Wagner report, which was prepared to provide more specific details of the original concept design compared cuttings and tunnels as design options but does not recommend tunnels”.  Wrong. Yes, it does. “Based upon this preliminary assessment, it was confirmed that tunnels would represent a viable alternative to deep cuttings at the major ridgelines.” (Source: Connell Wagner Report Page 28 – 7.2.4 “Potential tunnels”)



Federal Labor is 100 per cent committed to delivering the Coffs Harbour Bypass. The federal government announced $971 million in funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass on 8 May 2018. 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.

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.

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.

We’re not considering anything that: 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, and (5) hasn’t been released by the government.

No responsible or credible government, opposition, party or candidate would agree to fund something sight unseen. You can’t trust the National Party and Labor is not in the business of writing blank cheques. The ball is with the federal and state National parties. They have botched this to date and have much work to do. The shambles has to stop. The Nationals must stop the truth bypass in Coffs Harbour.


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