Tollway inevitable: Minister
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL, Northern Star
FEDERAL Transport Minister Warren Truss has confirmed tolls on the Pacific Highway are increasingly likely if the $10 billion upgrade is to be completed by 2016.
The Roads and Traffic Authority's 2005 costing for the project was $8 billion, but Mr Truss announced on Tuesday it would probably rise to $10 billion.
The deputy leader of the National Party's comments are in stark contrast to the views of his State counterpart, Ballina MP Don Page.
Mr Page believes, despite rising costs, the highway should be publicly funded.
"It's the most important piece of infrastructure on the east coast of Australia," he said.
"Governments can borrow money cheaper than the private sector.
"And private operators need to provide financial dividends to shareholders, whereas the government needs to provide social dividends."
Page MP Ian Causley said he supported the stance of Mr Truss.
"Don Page is entitled to his view, but if he gets into government I think he'll find they won't be able to fund it," he said.
"Tollways are common throughout the world. As long as there's an alternate route I don't have a problem with them."
The NSW and Federal governments signed a memorandum of understanding last year, agreeing to consider funding options, including tolls.
nMeanwhile the final report of the parliamentary inquiry into the Pacific Highway upgrade was released yesterday by General Purpose Standing Committee No4 chairwoman Jenny Gardiner MLC.
"There is great concern about the Government's lack of integrated transport planning for the North Coast," she said.
The report recommends investigating the Summerland Way inland option.