“The National Party has abandoned the people of west Coffs Harbour over the bypass, saying they should simply put up with all of the negative impacts because they chose to live there” ALP candidate for Cowper Andrew Woodward said.
In an extraordinary statement to Parliament, the state Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser effectively said anyone who purchased in west Coffs Harbour after the bypass route was announced in 2004 had no grounds for complaint – “knowing full well that the route would interfere with these people’s lifestyles. It will.”
Mr Woodward (pictured) said that “what Mr Fraser failed to mention in his speech in parliament was that the tunnels, which everyone expected for a decade, were swapped out five weeks ago for trenches, 30 to 50 per cent bigger than the cruise liner the QE2, making the bypass higher, noisier, dirtier and uglier than previously envisaged.
Mr Fraser then went on the try and pass the blame over to the council for allowing development near the proposed route. Council too was under the impression the design would feature tunnels.
What a cop out. Mr Fraser seems to have missed the point that the key feature of the bypass, the tunnels, mysteriously disappeared a month ago, without credible explanation from the government. For him to come out and wash his hands of the plight of thousands of people is a disgrace.
Quite simply, people purchased thinking there would be tunnels. They have every reason to be angry.”
Labor supports the Coffs Harbour Bypass in principle and is fighting for the government to reinstate tunnels into the design.
“Council obviously just wants to play a political game on this, but the reality is that the majority of the 360-odd people at that meeting on 11 October have bought land and built homes next to the proposed route post-2004. It is interesting to note that the council authorised those subdivisions after 2004, knowing full well that the route would interfere with these people’s lifestyles. It will.”
In further astonishing remarks, Mr Fraser in Parliament said:
“The people who attended that meeting clearly decided that they wanted a western bypass, but unfortunately that is not possible. It would cost somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion.”
“So Mr Fraser”, asked Mr woodward, “if the “western bypass” is costing only “$1.2 billion to $1.5 billion“, why not build that instead of the ‘CBD bypass’ which will cost $1.17 billion to $1.3 billion, according to the RMS Preferred Concept Design Summary Report? Or were you ‘confused’?”
Finally, Mr Fraser told parliament he’s at odds with the NSW Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, as he argued that that the public consultation period should continue “up until the Christmas break“. Ms Pavey last week announced the public consultation period will conclude on 30 November 2018. They can’t even get their story straight.
Mr Fraser also announced that the Environmental Impact Statement will be released at the end of January which will be at the start of the NSW election campaign and possibly in the middle of a federal election campaign if the Prime Minister goes early and holds a general election in mid-February.
Labor argues that the public consultation period should close no earlier than a month after all key reports on Aboriginal heritage, noise, the environment, pollution, property prices, the local economy, farms and jobs are released.
No decisions on this project should be made until after the 2019 state and federal elections.
“What a mess” said Mr Woodward.
ALP press Release – Monday 29 October 2018.
Coffs Harbour City Council angrily deny allegation by Andrew Fraser on bypass information sessions
Claims made this week by Andrew Fraser that Coffs Harbour City Council has been uncooperative in assisting Roads and Maritime Services display information to the community on the proposed Coffs Harbour Highway Bypass are completely false.
“Council have been very proactive in trying to facilitate Mr Fraser’s request. We contacted Roads and Maritime Services on numerous occasions asking for the display information to be supplied to us, and offering to assist in any way to help display this information in Council’s Customer Service Centre” said Council’s General Manager, Steve McGrath (pictured).
“Brochures supplied by Roads and Maritime Services have been on display in our Customer Service Centre since mid-October. This week we finally received further display material from Roads and Maritime Services which was immediately placed on display.”
“This information will remain on permanent display in our Customer Service Centre for as long as Roads and Maritime Services require it to be on exhibition. It needs to be stressed that the Coffs Harbour Highway Bypass project is an RMS / State Government project, it is not a Council project; however Council has offered and will assist.”
“This is a significant project for our city and as such should have a robust community engagement framework. Given this is a State Government project I encourage Mr Fraser to explore other options for community engagement on the project including manned displays where the community’s questions can be answered by qualified staff.”
Coffs Harbour City Council Press Release. Wednesday 31 October 2018.