Labor’s plan to reroute Pacific Hwy ‘playing with lives’: Gay

ROADS Minister Duncan Gay has defended the State Government's proposed plan for the Pacific Hwy upgrade between Woolgoolga and Ballina while attacking the policy put forward by Labor.

Labor, in its pre-election policy, suggested it would look at rerouting the upgrade routes the Roads and Maritime Services planned to tender to contractors under the current government.

Mr Gay said the move would result in a two-year delay and put more lives at risk.

"On average 28 people lose their lives on the Pacific Hwy each year in its current form," he said.

"You do the maths, Labor's claim on rerouting the highway will mean a two-year delay in construction.

"Too many lives are lost on this highway, that's why the New South Wales and Federal Governments are working together to deliver a fully duplicated Pacific Hwy by 2020 at the same time as protecting koalas along the road corridor."

Mr Gay said Labor was just playing politics with people's lives and livelihoods.

"Labor is all spin and no solution as usual. This time using koalas to play politics on the Pacific Hwy also means they're playing with people's lives," he said.

"If Labor reroutes the highway, 12 sugar cane farms would also need to be acquired - severely crippling the region's cane industry and devastating the local economy.

"The preferred route for the Woolgoolga to Ballina project was carefully selected after considering a range of competing factors, including functional, social, environmental, ecological constraints and economic criteria.

"This was done to provide a route that can be justified now and for future generations.

"Potential routes further to the east would have had significant impacts on the Jali land (west of the Richmond River), significant impacts on cane land and floodplains and would cost 60% more."

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