O'Farrell in, but Keneally quiet
THE heat has been turned up on NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to tour the deadly section of the Pacific Highway between Coffs Harbour and Ballina, with Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell taking up the invitation sent by the region’s mayors to make the trip.
Mr O’Farrell announced yesterday he will tour the 212km stretch of highway on April 8.
However, the silence from the NSW Government has been deafening.
As of yesterday, Ms Keneally had not officially replied to the invitation sent 28 days ago.
Ms Keneally’s office told The Daily Examiner last month the Premier intended to send Regional Development Minister Ian Macdonald in her place, an unpalatable option for the mayors.
Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson and mayors from Richmond Valley, Ballina and Coffs Harbour councils will accompany Mr O’Farrell on April 8. State MPs Steve Cansdell (Clarence), Don Page (Ballina) and Coffs Harbour (Andrew Fraser) will also make the trip.
Cr Williamson was understandably chuffed Mr O’Farrell had agreed to make the trip north.
“We are hopeful that he takes into consideration the poor state of the highway in some areas as it is today and we hope that he is able to take on board our concerns as to the low priority of the upgrading of the highway between Ballina and Coffs,” Cr Williamson said.
But Cr Williamson said the mayors would not go as far as seeking an election commitment from the Coalition regarding funding for the highway upgrade.
“It’s more at this stage for him to get a feeling of what many of our residents put up with each and every day of their lives,” Cr Williamson said.
As for the Premier, Cr Williamson said the open-ended invitation remained on the table.
“The invitation wasn’t for her to tour the highway on a given day or time,” Cr Williamson said.
“The Premier is obviously a very busy person, but we would have hoped that we would have got come recognition of our request by now.
“If the Premier can find room in her diary between now and the next election, the invitation still stands.”