The mooted 50/50 duplication completion date for the Pacific Highway is under threat following an announcement by deputy premier Andrew Stoner that the federal government’s insistence on a 50/50 funding model for the remainder of the highway is ‘unreasonable’.
On February 17 the federal and state governments issued a joint Pacific Highway Report Card, complete with glossy pictures of road-making machinery and estimates on completion and start dates for a number of sections of the road.
But behind the scenes a battle was taking place for the future funding of the highway duplication.
Yesterday the deputy premier Andrew Stoner said that the goal of full duplication by 2016 ‘may have to be shelved’ if feds insist on 50/50 funding.
He told ABC radio this morning ‘for the Gillard Labor Government to walk away from the historic funding split of 80/20 is not only disappointing, it really jeopardises the 2016 completion date’.
But federal transport minister Anthony Albanese has pointed out that the 50/50 funding model was a Howard-era concept and even went so far as to quote Mr Howard as saying in 2007 ‘… the coalition government is willing to provide our share of the additional funding needed to fully duplicate by 2016, if the NSW government will match our funding commitment…’
Mr Albanese added that between 1996/97 and 2007/08, the former NSW Labor government ended up spending $2.5 billion on the highway, almost twice as much as the Howard government’s $1.3 billion contribution.