Context

The response is in relation to a request from a resident to revisit routes previously proposed due to the lack of tunnels in the “Preferred concept design” released this week.


Response

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I agree with the overall sentiment that we will need a bypass around Coffs Harbour (such as those investigated in 2001). This, in my opinion, will have to happen around the middle of this century. This issue is something that government and community will have to start examining soon in parallel with a discussion about the route of high-speed rail along the east coast between Sydney and Brisbane. It should also occur in conjunction with a discussion about planning for the relocation or rebuilding of Coffs Harbour Airport due to climate change induced rising sea levels in the second half of the century.
For the moment, as a candidate and from the opposition, I am dealing with the disastrous design released by the federal and state National Party Governments this week. Their design without tunnels is a gross act of social, environmental and economic vandalism. It is the sell-out of the century.
Labor supports the bypass of the CBD but is strongly opposed to the trenches. The trenches are terrible for the amenity and lifestyle of thousands of residents, property values, the natural environment, farmers, heritage and much more. They will be a scar on our beautiful coast.
If the National Party’s design proceeds, we will regret it for generations. We should do it once; do it right and do it now. NSW Roads and Maritime Services should be told by the federal and state governments to go back to the drawing board and come back with a design featuring three tunnels within the $1.2 billion budget.
We should have tunnels and not trenches as promised by Luke Hartsuyker in April 2016 and on the RMS website up until last Monday. For the record, a “land bridge” is not a tunnel as the NSW Minister for Roads claims. We also know the Minister’s claims on dangerous goods vehicles (as the reason for no tunnels) are entirely spurious.
I know you want a fresh examination of alternative routes and for the shelving of this route. I can’t support that as this route with ”tunnels”, or “potential tunnels” has been in the public domain since 2004 and is mostly supported by the community. I concur that the basis of this support is in part based on a design featuring two or more tunnels. I am committed to fighting for the reinstatement of these tunnels.
The community has too little time to organise its response to the RMS “Preferred concept design”. It has been given a month to comment by 26 October 2018. Someone forgot to tell the governments that schools holidays run from 29 September 2018 to 14 October 2018. I further understand the Environmental Impact Statement will go on display at the beginning of December and submissions will close at the end of January. This timetable is unacceptable as NSW school holidays run from 22 December 2018 until 28 January 2019. This schedule is unfair on the public. I am calling on the governments to extend the comment period until mid-November and for the EIS to go on display at the start of February 2019 and for submissions to close at the end of March 2019.
I know this won’t satisfy your broader concerns but as I said, I will deal with what I can deal with from the position I am in, and that is to fight this disastrous decision to prefer trenches over tunnels.
Thank you for your time.
Andrew Woodward
Labor Candidate for Cowper

Updated: 26 September 2018