2019 letterhead

9 December 2018

The Editor, Coffs Coast Advocate,

Editor,

Ms Barbara Davis, is 100 per cent wrong when she says Federal Labor hasn’t made a commitment to building the Coffs Harbour Bypass (Coffs Coast Advocate, 8 December 2018, Cut to the bypass chase).

A ten-second fact check reveals that the front page of the Coffs Harbour Advocate on Saturday 12 May 2018 said “Federal Labor yesterday committed to match the Turnbull Government 2018 Budget pledge of $971 million for the project”. (Coffs Coast Advocate, 12 May 2018, 2020 Vision).

Irrespective of this glaring error, Ms Davis should be holding the National Party to account for its failures on the Coffs Harbou Bypass and not attacking fellow residents for their legitimate fears.

The truth is, this project should have been shovel ready to start in 2017/2018, with the competition of all sections of the Pacific Highway upgrade between Port Macquarie and Urunga. It should have been finished in 2020/21 and not starting in 2020/21.

Instead, the federal Nationals, in power in Canberra since 2013, and the state Nationals, in power in Sydney since 2011, sat on their hands and didn’t do the work required, meaning construction wouldn’t start before 2020/21 financial year. It is incompetence and mismanagement of the highest order.

And then, after telling us for a decade that there would be three tunnels on the route, the tunnels mysteriously disappear without credible explanation in September this year. And then we’re told by the National Party to suck it up, get over it and be grateful. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Luke Hartsuyker’s dummy-spit a few weeks threatening to pull the $971 million for the project and send the money to the south coast is unbecoming of a federal member of parliament. What a pathetic and childish outburst from a senior member of the National Party.

And no Ms Davis, the bypass shouldn’t proceed at any cost to tens of thousands of current and future residents whose lives will be negatively impacted for well over a century. Yes, we need to get trucks out of the CBD. But we need to fix the problem – not simply move it.

The current design is a social, environmental and economic disaster for Coffs Harbour. We need to get it right, with tunnels, and address other concerns before proceeding in 2020/21 financial year. We have the time to get it right and stick to the current, albeit flawed, schedule. More on my position is at www.coffsbypass.com .

This time of the year is meant to be the season of goodwill. It obviously isn’t for some. Caring for our community and country is in order, now more than ever.

ANDREW WOODWARD
Labor candidate for Cowper

 


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