So, for all of the Nationals talk about tunnels where are we?
By the Coffs Bypass Action Group
“There was lots of talk of major infrastructure projects for Australia in the recent federal budget, many in marginal seats, but was there one mention of the Coffs Harbour Bypass? “Not one!” Said Cheryl Cooper, Coffs Bypass Action Group Co-Communications Chair.
“We are very disappointed. We know that $971m was put aside in a previous budget but we had hoped there would be confirmation that our bypass would be funded to have proper bored or drill and blast tunnels
and that the pledge to spend of $25 million on the entire project in 2019-2020 would be increased.
“We are still hearing of senior ministers referring to major cuttings with land bridges as tunnels and we know the RMS is continuing to work on what they call the “current” plan. The only plan we have seen is the September 2018 concept plan and that is major cuttings.
“We have a new Minister in Paul Toole and hope he will be more forthcoming than his predecessor, Melinda Pavey, however we have also heard that the RMS is to be merged under the main Transport Portfolio so have no idea what that might mean for this project and whether it also throws the planned start date into question” said Ms Cooper. “Certainly, we do not expect it to start in the promised 2020 much to the disappointment of the people of Coffs Harbour, who have waited so long for this road”.
“The new Consultative Communications Committee will not meet for the first time until April 26th and then or only introductions and a review of discussion points. Nothing will be done there before the Federal Election”. Ms Cooper said this was “such a disappointment.”
“Though the State Nationals promised an extra $300m towards the project that is yet to be seen in a budget either.”
“Personally, I think it comes down to politics. We are a National stronghold and therefore are not a priority. You can see that the road spending is mostly in marginal federal electorates. “People here have been loyal to the
Nationals” Ms Cooper said “and this is how they are repaid.”
“At the end of the day, in comparison to Australia, we are seen as an insignificant speck and the senior politicians will congratulate themselves on finishing this project, one day, irrespective of whether it disadvantages the many people who live here or not” Ms Cooper said.
The above is a Press Release from The Coffs Bypass Action Group. Wednesday 3 April 2019.