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Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

MP’s highway death claims ‘beggar belief’

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Outgoing Ballina MP Don Page. (file pic)
Outgoing Ballina MP Don Page. (file pic)

Chris Dobney

The Greens and the ALP have lashed out at comments by retiring National Party Ballina MP Don Page that moving the route of the Pacific Highway away from an endangered koala colony would cost human lives.

Earlier today Mr Page told ABC radio the change would delay the project for two years and implied the Greens and opposition would have blood on their hands if they successfully pressed for a route change.

‘At the moment there are 28 people on average dying on the Pacific Highway, plus numerous injuries. So there would be about 56 additional deaths with a two year delay,’ he said.

‘So let’s think about the people who will die on that highway as well as any impact it will have on koalas,’ Mr Page added.

Tamara Smith, Greens candidate for the seat of Ballina in the 2015 NSW Election.
Tamara Smith, Greens candidate for the seat of Ballina in the 2015 NSW Election.

Greens Ballina candidate Tamara Smith told Echonetdaily today, ‘Don’s comments on radio this morning beggar belief’.

‘I’m shocked that he’s making off-hand comments about fatalities on the Pacific Highway to score political points.

‘It seems he’s using statistics that refer to fatalities on the whole highway to sensationalise the complex issues that surround the route of one section of the highway.

‘The government and the RMS have had years to consider alternative routes in the face of longstanding community opposition. To turn around now to blame the community for any delays is unbelievable.’

‘The outrageous implication is that if you are supporting the alternative route you are supporting deaths on our roads.’

Mr Page also indicated that the current planned route was cheaper and easier than the other option.

‘The alternative route that they’re proposing will cost 60 per cent more than what has been approved… and that’s because you’re going through soft soils because you would be building the road in the flood plain – and that’s very expensive,’ Mr Page said.

ALP candidate for Ballina Paul Spooner
ALP candidate for Ballina Paul Spooner

ALP also oppose

ALP candidate Paul Spooner echoed Ms Smith’s comments, describing Mr Page’s remarks as ‘shameful scare tactics’.

‘We’re talking about getting the best outcome for a small section of the highway, which is only about 13 kilometres long,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘The identified route that the government has agreed upon is longer than the existing highway corridor and, because it goes through the Blackwall Ranges, is causing all kinds of environmental issues,’ he said.

‘Federal environment minister Greg Hunt has put 26 conditions on this section, a number of which have nothing to do with koalas. We may be bogged down in the environmental issues for a long time if the government has to satisfy these before the RMS can commence work.

‘What is being asked by Labor is to have a costing done on upgrading th eexisting highway to a standard that would match the rest of the upgrade. That hasn’t been done yet and, when it is, we may find we can get something done quicker and for a cheaper cost than what they are currently proposing,’ Mr Spooner said.

 

 


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8 COMMENTS

  1. We should be doing everything possible to save our existing koala populations.The number one thing we are known for overseas are koalas (and kangaroos and the Great Barrier Reef). Who will want to come here if koalas and the Reef are all destroyed?

  2. What the greens have yet to grasp, is that there is a lot of money at stake for these local ‘politicians’ and bears,people and principle are just collateral damage in the race to the trough.
    G”)

  3. It’s OK to use our precious koalas for “warm and fuzzy” photoshoots with foreign diplomats at the G20…but when they get in the way of a highway, run em over!
    No expense should be spared to protect and increase their habitat.
    Greens and Labor, hold your ground. The risks of extinction for this iconic animal are too great.

  4. Don Page’s comments are a new low for political point scoring. Claiming that Federal laws (EPBC Act) protecting our threatened and endangered species will cause 56 additional deaths on the 13km (Section 10) stretch between Broadwater and Wardell is a disgrace.

    The total disregard that the National Party MP’s (Don Page, Duncan Gay, Thomas George, etc) show for the environment and Aboriginal sacred sites highlight a 19th century view of the world.

    After 10 years the RMS and their political servants still don’t have final approval for this section of the road and experts have repeatedly stated that a nationally significant Koala population will become extinct unless the proposed highway deviation is reconsidered.

    Don Page has failed the northern rivers community with his support for environmental destruction and CSG mining. Mr Page knows that an upgrade utilising the existing highway corridor has never been costed and is well aware that his comments are nothing more than a below the belt attempt to score a political point.

    One would have hoped that he would have advocated on behalf of the community at large to protect our threatened species and to declare the region Gasfield free.

  5. What a shoddy load of rubbish from Page – regurgitating the lies and deception fed to him by the RMS.

    The existing highway is built on the floodplain and functions well – it is flat and (with the exception of the Boundary Creek bend) straight.. The existing highway has few (if any) impacts on biodiversity or cultural heritage. Adding 2 lanes to the existing alignment and dividing the carriageway will solve any safety problems and avoid ANY impacts on koalas, potoroos and the incredible cultural heritage in the Ngunya-Jargoon Indigenous Protected Area and surrounding freehold land.

    Shame on you Don, you could have departed Parliament with decency and grace.

  6. Michael, you can’t just move koalas around like chess pieces because they are in ‘our’ way. To do so causes incredible stress to them and stress causes chlamydia which is a big killer of them these days. It’s time we just let them be and stop acting like we own the planet. They are threatened species after all – we aren’t. But at the rate of biodiversity loss we are precipitating, we soon will be.

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