Both sides of politics now admit that the 2016 deadline for completion of the Pacific Highway is now impossible following a resumption of the tit-for-tat war that has been taking place for months.
On the weekend, Nationals leader Warren Truss announced that a federal coalition government would cancel the Epping to Parramatta rail link and redirect the $2.08 billion to completing the Pacific Highway on top of the $3.56 billion already included in the federal budget.
‘This new funding commitment brings the Commonwealth’s funding offer up to the standard 80:20 ratio, and puts an end to Minister Albanese’s phoney and discredited stand-off with NSW,’ he told Sky News.
But federal transport minister Anthony Albanese said that the proposal would free up only $67.9 million for the highway between now and 2016, given that most of the funding in the next several years was for early planning.
‘The bulk of the remaining funding he wants to redirect from this project to the highway wouldn’t begin flowing until 2017/18 ($750 million) and 2018/19 ($562.1 million),’ Mr Albanese said in a media release.
The feds also denied there was ever an agreement to fund the entire remainder of the highway on an 80:20 federal/state ratio.
‘From the outset, we have asked no more of the NSW coalition government than what they themselves promised to do [before the last election]. But unfortunately when it comes to the Pacific Highway, the coalition is all spin and deceit.’
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker confirmed to ABC radio this morning that 2016 has been missed.
‘The government has failed to get on with the job as quickly as possible. There’s been too much delay. 2016 is not possible but this additional funding… takes away the uncertainty that exists between federal Labor and the NSW state government,’ he said.