Statement by Andrew Woodward – Labor for Cowper
8 May 2018
Federal Budget confirms Coffs Harbour Bypass Con Job – only $10 million to be spent next financial year!
The Federal Budget tonight revealed the con job that the Federal and NSW State Governments have tried to pull on the people of the Coffs Coast over the Coffs Harbour Bypass.
I welcome the bypassing of Coffs Harbour. The project isn’t in question – the government’s delivery of it is. It appears shambolic. Its political trickery is unbelievable. It is straight out of the TV series Utopia.
With great fanfare on Monday, we heard that the Federal Government had allocated $971 million to the project.
What we learned in the Federal Budget tonight was that in 2018/19, the federal government would only spend $10 million (ten million) on the project. That’s about one percent of their contribution to the project.
But even more curious is the table in the Portfolio Budget Statements indicating federal spending from 2013/14 to 2021/22 will total only $235 million.
This is intriguing as in Question Time today, the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, the Hon. Michael McCormack, told parliament that the project would start in 2020 and be finished in 2023.
When is the other $736 million spent? That appears a lot to spend in 18 months (2022/23 and 2023/24).
And of the $200 million promised by the NSW Government in 2015, how much of that has been spent so far on preparation works and land acquisition? Is that pot empty? Does that need topping up?
Based on what we have seen and heard in the last 48 hours, the Government’s delivery of the Coffs Harbour Bypass announcement is shambolic and laughable. It should be streamlined, clear and transparent.
The Coffs Harbour Bypass project doesn’t add up right now. We have had a Liberal National Government in Sydney since 2011 and in Canberra since 2013. If they were so committed to this project, why then did they not get it to the “shovel ready” point next financial year? They’ve been caught out.
What has become clear is that Luke Hartsuyker has achieved nothing. The backslapping is not warranted.
In hindsight, we now know Luke Hartsuyker’s story was blown in Senate Estimates in October last year when a departmental officer said the Coffs Harbour Bypass wasn’t on their short-term plan. She went on to say it would make sense to start it in 2020 after the Woolgoolga to Ballina section was finished.
Now we know the departmental officer was right and all that’s happened with this week’s announcement is that the government has committed to the project in the forward estimates to the timetable articulated by the bureaucrat.
There’s nothing new from Senate Estimates last year. Nothing has been brought forward. Nothing unplanned has happened. It is just a big con.
We deserve answers. We deserve better. The Nationals need to stop the truth bypass.