Clarence Valley Council mayor Richie Williamson walks along the Pacific Highway at Swan Creek.
Clarence Valley Council mayor Richie Williamson walks along the Pacific Highway at Swan Creek. Adam Hourigan

Budget allocates $10m for highway

SOME progress may have been made in getting life-saving improvements to the Pacific Highway between Woolgoolga and Ballina.

This week’s State Budget included $10 million for planning the dual divided highway upgrade for the notoriously dangerous section of highway.

Pacific Highway Taskforce chairman and Clar- ence Valley mayor Richie Williamson said any money for studies was good because it meant the highway was one step closer to a dual carriageway.

But he and three other North Coast mayors still wanted Premier Kristina Keneally to join them on a tour of the section.

“Part of the frustration is that we saw Minister Macdonald (who resigned from Parliament over travel claims) who, I thought, would report back to her,” he said.

“But we have heard nothing since then and he is no longer in Parliament, and we have heard nothing more from the Premier about our invitation to tour the highway.”

Cr Williamson said there were some positives in the highway funding announced in the Budget.

It included $810 million for the highway, which was $147 million up on the previous year.

“Generally it’s good news,” he said.

“The area from the Oxley Highway south will all be dual carriageway; that is a tick in the right box, but let’s not forget about the unfunded sections where lives will be lost.”

Cr Williamson incentives for “empty nesters” to downsize their housing was also welcome.

“These dovetail nicely with the policies of council. The stamp duty reductions should lead to a spike in new-home construction, which is needed,” he said.

But there were also downsides.

“It remains disappointing there is a metro transport plan and no regional transport plan, and no funding for one in the Budget for the Clarence and northern areas,” he said.

“And it’s disappointing that there was nothing for Maclean Hospital, which needs an urgent injection of funds.”



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