Statement by Andrew Woodward Labor Candidate for Cowper
Monday, 7 May 2018
Is the government going for the “El Cheapo” option on the Coffs Habour Bypass?
The Federal Government today announced funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass. They’re looking for pats on the back – I am giving them brickbats.
The Federal Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming to fund this critical project. This is our local version of the Banking Industry Royal Commission – they’re looking for praise for something they should have done years ago.
What’s next, they’ll be looking for praise for the rivers flowing, birds chirping and the sun rising each day? The National Party soap opera over the Coffs Harbour Bypass in Cowper is a joke, and thankfully it is now concluding.
No one argues with the need for Coffs Harbour to be bypassed. It is a no-brainer, even for the Nationals, who had to be shamed into funding this project by the local community, Labor and the media.
But what’s more concerning is the amount of money that they have put aside for this project.
The Federal Government reportedly has announced funding of $971 million with the State Government making up the remaining part of the $1.2 billion project (as reported by the Coffs Harbour Advocate).
Most estimates put the cost of the project at $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion. This begs the question, what are they doing on the cheap? Are they cutting back on property purchases and putting the road closer to schools, homes and businesses? Are they cutting back on protecting residential areas from noise? Are they cutting back on environmental protection?
And according to their own estimates, they’ve only purchased 44 percent of the properties needed for their current route? Will they be putting pressure on the remaining landholders to sell at below mark rates?
What is the route of this bypass? How long do people potentially impacted have to wait to find out if their lives have changed? When will the government come clean on the project?
We have to be so careful with this government. They always try and do things on the cheap and stuff it up. We saw that with the NBN and fibre-to-the-node rather than fibre-to-the-property.
Road projects of this magnitude serve the community for well over a century – two centuries in the case of the Pacific Highway. This road started off as a horse trail in the 1800’s and it still closely follows the route from 200 years ago.
We should do the bypass right the first time and not just move the problem a few decades down the track. We need the government to release the business case immediately and come clean.
We need to see if we’re getting what will work or if we have once again sprung the government trying to get away with something on the cheap so it can find its $65 billion in tax cuts for big business.
Audio for radio
Updated: 7 May 2018