From: Coffs Harbour Advocate
THERE’S currently no money in the forward estimates of the federal budget for the Coffs Harbour bypass.
If the situation continues on May 8 when the next Federal Budget is announced by treasurer Scott Morrison, the opposition spokesperson for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Anthony Albanese, said the Coalition can expect to come under scrutiny for it.
“The first thing we’d do is call them out on it and then we’ll make our decisions based upon what the budget looks like on the second Tuesday in May,” Mr Albanese said.
“They (the Coalition) have been talking about this for a long time. You’ve got a National Party state MP Andrew Fraser saying that the Commonwealth will have money in the budget in May.
“Well let’s see whether that’s right or not. If not let’s see whether Andrew Fraser has the ticker to say that they’ve got it wrong and to condemn it.
“If the money is there in the budget I will welcome it.”
In an exclusive interview with the Coffs Coast Advocate, Mr Albanese said “we’ll wait and see what’s in the budget” when asked what Labor’s commitment to the Coffs Harbour bypass is.
He added though that the ball at the moment regarding the bypass is well and truly in the Turnbull Government’s court and he thinks it’s time they played the ball and got things moving.
“If you go to the south of here, delivered by a Federal Labor government. If you go further north, the upgrade of the section up to Arrawarra, again a Labor government.
“It’s about time the Coalition did what they said they’d do and have real money in the budget. Not into the never never but real money into the budget in a few weeks time.
“If we were delivering the budget then we’d be sitting down and doing the detail of the numbers that are all there now so we’ll wait and see what’s there but really the Coalition should be advancing this project.”
Prior to discussing the party’s policies at a Politics in the Pub gathering at the Coffs Hotel tonight, Mr Albanese had a meeting in the Coffs Harbour City Council chambers with Coffs Harbour Mayor, Cr Denise Knight and council’s general manager Steve McGrath alongside the Labor’s endorsed candidate for the seat of Cowper, Andrew Woodward.
Mr Albanese said it made sense to discuss issues with the local government.
“It’s something that I do all of the time,” he said.
“We’re not in an election campaign now. I want to engage with the council. I had good relationships in the past with the council here. We worked with council to upgrade that fantastic playground at Brelsford Park and upgrade the Coffs Harbour International Stadium, put the lights in that enabled the City-Country games to be hosted here and a host of other sporting activities.
“I’ve had a relationship with local government from the time when I was the Minister from 2007.”
One of the major agenda items at the meeting in the council chambers was the Coffs Harbour bypass. Something Mr Albanese said before the meeting that he’d be “surprised if it didn’t rate a big mention”. It’s also an issue he wants to see progress at a rapid rate.
“Every bit of the Pacific Highway from Port Macquarie to here that’s been upgraded or in the process of being upgraded was funded while I was the Minister,” he said.
“That’s something I’m quite proud of, our record on the Pacific Highway.”
Updated: 22 April 2018