The federal-state government stoush about who pays how much for the Pacific Highway should be settled by tonight.
The state government budget is set to be unveiled and, with it, the state’s commitment to highway funding will be revealed.
The announcement follows months of wrangling between federal transport minister Anthony Albanese and state roads minister Duncan Gay.
The federal government has insisted that the final tranche of highway duplication must be a 50/50 responsibility of the two arms of government. The state has insisted on an 80/20 split, under which most recent highway construction – announced under the stimulus plan – was undertaken.
Ballina MP and minister for the north coast, Don Page, said last week that the Pacific Hwy would do ‘very well’ out of the state’s infrastructure spending but he didn’t commit to the 2016 completion timetable the governments previously touted.
Former deputy PM and National Party Lyne MP Mark Vaille has also weighed into the debate, telling ABC radio this morning that the Pacific Highway ‘should be one of the state’s key spending priorities’.
‘Given the history of the Pacific Highway, with some of the awful crashes that we’ve seen over the years, the general public and the electorate won’t countenance procrastination on this,’ he said.
Minister Page said local roads, health and education should also benefit from tonight’s budget.
There will be an additional $30 million available to councils to redress infrastructure backlogs, he said.
He added that there would be planning money made available for Lismore Base Hospital and the long-delayed Byron Central Hospital, as well as Kingscliff and Murwillumbah TAFEs.