Statement by Andrew Woodward
21 May 2018
Rushed and half-baked Coffs Bypass announcement confirmed
A Senate Estimates hearing tonight in Canberra has confirmed that the recent announcement of funding for the Coffs Harbour Bypass was a rushed and half-baked announcement designed to do nothing more than try and save Luke Hartsuyker’s now terminal political career.
The Coffs Harbour Bypass was raised by Labor tonight in a Senate Estimates hearing. Questions were answered by Ms Sarah Leeming, General Manager, South East Infrastructure Investment Branch, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
It was confirmed in Senate Estimates tonight that the Coffs Harbour Bypass business plan isn’t final; hasn’t been submitted; hasn’t been assessed and, won’t be for another 12 months.
Last week we learned that this project wasn’t ‘shovel ready’ to start in a significant way as soon as possible. It should have been ready to start in the next few months. Instead, it is two years or more away from starting.
Now we have learned that the project wasn’t even ‘press release ready’.
Joining the dots, it is clear to see that in the normal course of events, this project wouldn’t have been announced or confirmed for another year. But that would have fallen after the next Federal Election, not suiting Luke Hartsuyker’s political agenda.
It was only Labor’s arrival on the scene in Coffs Harbour that scared Luke Hartsuyker and his National stooges into cobbling together this shambles of an announcement.
A funding announcement should have occurred after the final business case had been submitted and assessed by the Canberra bureaucracy.
The bureaucrat answering questions tonight said as much when she said the draft business case gave them enough to go with to determine the cost of the project. Her comments were hardly convincing.
It is clear the only thing accelerated for this year’s budget was the issuing of a press release.
There’s no detail, no maps, no plans, no timetable and no information for impacted residents.
Mr Hartsuyker and the Nationals need to understand their half-baked announcement is a causing uncertainty and concern in the north and western parts of Coffs Harbour.
This is causing stress for property owners and has the potential to impact property prices, where people live and where people go to school.
And we need a plan now to deal with the impact that the arrival of construction workers will have on the rental market – pushing rents up in Coffs Harbour, the northern beaches, Sawtell, Urunga and Bellingen.
The construction work will make housing even more unaffordable for the disadvantaged, families and older people looking to re-establish.
Anglicare recently reported rents rose 36 percent in two years on the North Coast due to major road and infrastructure projects.
Luke Hartsuyker needs to put people first and not publicity first.