Former Labor roads minister Anthony Albanese has welcomed the opening of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade, due tomorrow, but he has lost no time in chiding the current Coalition government for attempting to take the credit.
The new duplicated section will deliver safer and faster travel for thousands of drivers who use that section of the road each day: there have been at least six fatalities in the area since the project began.
Shadow roads minister Albanese commended Richmond MP Justine Elliot and the former Page MP Janelle Saffin, who he said ‘can be particularly proud that their strong advocacy delivered $566.1 million in commonwealth funding for this section of the highway.’
The New South Wales Government contributed $295.9 million.
‘Labor committed to this project in the 2007 election campaign. In 2011, as transport minister I announced the contract, with construction commencing in 2012,’ Mr Albanese said.
‘In addition to saving lives, the project has created thousands of jobs and will mean increased productivity and efficiency for freight up and down our coast.
‘While the federal Coalition government will be falling over itself to take credit for the project come Friday, local residents will know that it took a federal Labor government to make it a reality.
‘In Labor’s last year in office we invested $1 billion in the Pacific Highway as part of our $7.6 billion record funding package for full duplication.
‘But the Coalition reduced this by 65 per cent to just $357 million in the current financial year.
‘At the same time, it has sought to hide the cuts by constantly reannouncing Labor government funded Pacific Highway projects on its magical mystery infrastructure reannouncement tour.
‘As National Party MPs queue to cut ribbons on projects funded by the former Labor government, they should recall the inaction of the Howard government years and explain why funding has fallen under the new Coalition government.