Hwy 'high priority'

THE Pacific Hwy may have only been mentioned in passing in the Draft NSW Long Term Trans- port Master Plan released on Monday, but Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the highway upgrade remained "locked in as a high priority" for the O'Farrell Government.

Asked why no funding detail for the highway had been provided in the plan, Mr Stoner said an announcement was expected in the State Infrastructure Strategy to be released later this month.

Responding to questions in Grafton yesterday, Mr Stoner said the Federal Government had reneged on its commitment to fund the highway upgrade by 2016 by refusing to meet its previous 80:20 funding arrangement enjoyed by the previous State Labor government.

"Every other national land transport program when Labor was in government was funded at 80:20 or better," Mr Stoner said.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has repeatedly stated that no such "agreement" existed, but rather extra funding had been provided as an economy stimulus during the global financial crisis.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said this was a "convenient" claim by the Federal Labor Government. "In terms of reneging on a promise, you need to be talking to (Federal Treasurer) Wayne Swan, who in his haste to achieve a surplus federally looked for the lowest hanging fruit to the Pacific Hwy," Mr Stoner said.

He said the NSW Government was "trying to find the money" to fund its share of the Pacific Hwy, referring to possible plans to sell off parts of the NSW Lotto program to raise revenue.

Some 331km of Pacific Hwy is yet to be upgraded to dual carriageway and the State/Federal Government's funding deadlock leaves the majority of the promised upgrade, including 90km in the Clarence Valley, in limbo.



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