REVEALED: Not one dollar Federally for Coffs Harbour Bypass

6PM: ASSISTANT Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Luke Hartsuyker, Member for Cowper, has responded to Anthony Albanese's comments today about the future funding of the proposed Pacific Highway bypass of Coffs Harbour. 

Mr Hartsuyker labelled Mr Albanese's reported claim of a 'go-slow' on the Pacific Hwy upgrade as 'non-sense.'

"Anyone travelling along the Pacific Highway between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, as I often do several times a week, can clearly see the colossal scale of the work being completed," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"In the last year, upgraded sections of highway have been opened including Frederickton to Eungai and Nambucca Heads to Urunga, with more sections due for completion later this year.

"In relation to the Coffs Harbour Bypass, departmental officials confirmed in a Senate Estimates hearing this week that the Federal Government has not yet received the business case for the project from the NSW Government.

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"The NSW Government is finalising the exact route and design and carrying out environmental assessments."

Mr Hartsuyker said once these preparatory tasks were completed and the business case for the project is finalised, the Federal Government can start discussions with the NSW Government about funding arrangements.

"Earlier today I had a private meeting with the Prime Minister where I raised the need to prioritise funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass so the project can commence as soon as possible.

"He is well-aware of the need to bypass Coffs Harbour's CBD.

"I also spoke with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport about the bypass earlier today, and regularly discuss the need for a bypass with him."

Mr Hartsuyker noted that Infrastructure Australia had included the Coffs Harbour Bypass on its Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Initiative.

Anthony Albanese in Coffs Harbour.
Anthony Albanese in Coffs Harbour. Trevor Veale

WEDNESDAY, 4PM: THE Commonwealth has not allocated a single dollar to build the Coffs Harbour Bypass despite the Nationals having claimed advance work would begin as early as next year.

That's the concerning news on the $1-billion Pacific Highway project coming out of Canberra this afternoon from Opposition Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development spokesman Anthony Albanese.

For an anticipated start to construction works in 2018-2019 following completion of the Woolgoolga to Ballina project, as previously indicated by the Federal Government, funding would seemingly need to be announced in the upcoming Federal Budget. 

Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Secretary Mike Mrdak told a Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearing on Monday no money had been allocated to the bypass between now and 2019-20.

Asked whether there was any chance of the project being added to the work schedule, Mr Mrdak said: "That would be a matter for the Government in reference to a future program, but there's nothing at the moment."

The Senate's Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee was told by Infrastructure Australia a business case for the bypass was yet to be received although one may be received within the next 12 to 18 months. 

Mr Albanese accused Nationals Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker of associating himself with NSW State Government-funded planning for the Bypass.

"It is typical of the Turnbull Government's deception about its infrastructure program that it would seek credit for advancing a project without actually providing any investment," Mr Albanese said.

"The Government has also sought to mislead Australians about the overall size of its infrastructure program.

"While it claims the program is worth $50 billion over six years, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development says it is worth $34 billion with a further $8 billion allocated to some unspecified time in the future.

"The deception has continued over the Pacific Highway duplication with the Government frequently re-announcing old projects funded in budgets of the former Labor Federal Government to pretend they are new."

Mr Albanese said at the same time the Government had cut funding for the ongoing work, with the 2016 Budget reducing Pacific Highway investment by $351 million over what it had promised just a year before.

"It's time to end the go-slow program on the Pacific Highway to improve road safety and secure long-term productivity gains for the entire national economy," he added.

Funds for preliminary investigations and planning of the 14-kilometre bypass route, that's proposed to run from the England's Rd roundabout to Sapphire have previously been delivered by the State Government.  

Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester inspect the bridge over the Wilson River east of Telegraph Point.
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester inspect the bridge over the Wilson River east of Telegraph Point.


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