The goal of completing duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2016 now seems unlikely to be reached after the federal government announced on Friday that the Commonwealth would only match the state dollar for dollar.
A spokesperson for transport minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed that $3.56 million will be set aside in tomorrow’s budget, 50 per cent of the amount required to finish the job.
Ratcheting up the conflict a further notch, he added that the money would only be released when matched dollar for dollar by the state.
Since the GFC, the federal government has been providing 80 per cent of the funds for building the highway of part of its stimulus package.
The program winds up at the end of this month and the federal government has for several months been saying it would return to the 50/50 model introduced by John Howard under which the highway languished for more than a decade.
In response, the state government has threatened to shelve the project completely.
State roads minister Duncan Gay told ABC radio this morning, ‘the fact that the federal government has moved away from what the current funding situation was is putting the prime minister’s 2016 pledge at risk’.