News

Hwy money is a political game: MP

CLAIMS an extra $3.56 billion has been set aside for the full duplication of the Pacific Hwy - enough to get the job done by 2016 as long as the State Government contributes the same - have been rejected by Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.

Federal Labor is prepared to step up and match any new funding the NSW Government allocates to the Pacific Hwy on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a limit of $3.56 billion, Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese announced over the weekend.

He said getting the job done would require an equal partnership between both levels of government.

"We are simply asking the NSW Government to fulfil the commitments they gave prior to the last state election and to honour the funding arrangements originally put in place in 1996 and reconfirmed in 2007 by former prime minister John Howard," he said.

The announcement coming just days before what is shaping up to be a tight budget was "politics, pure and simple", according to Mr Gulaptis.

"Mr Albanese should put up or shut up," he said.

"The Federal Government Budget is going to be tough and the State Government Budget will also be tight. Businesses and householders are also doing it tough," Mr Gulaptis said.

"If the Federal Government has got the money to spend on the highway, then it should spend it whether it is matched or not.

"If they don't go ahead knowing they have the money, then they are just playing politics with people's lives," he said.

Mr Albanese said if the NSW Government matched his government's commitment, it would take federal spending on the highway under Labor to more than $7.7 billion over nine years.

This compared to the Howard government's record of just $1.3 billion over twelve years, he said.

But Mr Gulaptis said those claims were overblown, as the funding arrangements agreed to by the State Coalition for the highway was an 80-20 split, with the majority federally funded.

Under this arrangement, he said the State Government's required contribution was closer to $1.7 million.

The upgrade and full duplication of the Pacific Hwy is the most expensive and complex road project ever undertaken in Australia.

Currently there are more than 1800 workers on site upgrading some 60km of highway.

Topics:  chris gulaptis, federal budget 2012, funding, pacific highway, state government



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