Federal Government pulls $70 million from highway upgrade

A LEAKED NSW Government document that shows funding for the Pacific Highway upgrade will be reduced by $70 million this year has drawn a sharp rebuke from state and federal Labor.

A spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said money promised by the Federal Coalition had been "re-phased" and would not be paid until coming years.

Before the September 7 election it was promised the Pacific Highway upgrade would be delivered sooner under an Abbott government.

Projects at Maclean and Ballina will now be delayed and funding cut while "priority three" dual carriageway upgrades between Woolgoolga and Ballina will continue.

However, there are fears more pressure could be placed on completion dates of projects between Kempsey and Coffs

UNDER FIRE: Minister for Roads Duncan Gay.
UNDER FIRE: Minister for Roads Duncan Gay.

Harbour, especially if further announcements are made of funding withdrawals.

Labor's Federal electoral council spokesman for Cowper, Alfredo Navarro has asked why highway aspirations of the North Coast community have "been relegated to the end of the queue".

"During the election campaign I was able to produce a letter from Duncan Gay to Labor's Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese saying he would be unable to use all the funding given by Labor to the state," he said.

"Before being re-elected, The Nationals member for Cowper, Mr Hartsuyker, was very vocal and clear that he would have more funds than Labor and the Coalition would complete the Pacific Hwy way before a Labor government could.

"Now with this latest revelation, it just goes to show that under the Coalition, nothing can be believed.

"We have had this government in place for just three months and again they are going back on promises.

"I want to know - and I'm sure the Cowper community have the same question - why was $70 million of funding taken out of the Pacific Hwy?"

State Labor spokesman Walt Secord has accused Premier Barry O'Farrell of disregarding road safety.

He said this sent a bad message on the eve of peak traffic flows.

"The O'Farrell government did not make any formal announcement and tried to slip this dreadful news under the radar," Mr Secord said.

"Safety on these roads is absolutely critical, especially when tens of thousands of families use them at Christmas."

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