What a strange letter from the Nationals’ Ben Franklin MLC (Byron Shire Echo, March 7), for taking a swipe at Keith Williams and Ballina Country Labor for daring to remind the voters of the Ballina electorate just how ineffectual the Nationals have been on the North Coast since the early 1970s (this letter requires some serious fact checks).
According to Mr Franklin, over the years the Nationals have delivered major infrastructure projects ‘in spades’, an amazing claim, I’ve been coming to and living in Ballina since the early 1970s. and driving down the two-lane goat track that was called the Pacific Highway from Brisbane, sometimes taking well over four hours.
I guess I must have missed all the ‘modern infrastructure’ somehow, but yes, the Howard government finally funded the Chinderah to Yelgun upgrade but only after Paul Keating initially made it a 1996 election promise.
As for the rest of the Pacific Highway upgrade to Ballina, Bob Carr’s Labor government built the Tyagarah to Ewingsdale upgrade, and when Labor’s Janelle Saffin won the seat of Page she secured Federal funding for the remaining sections, including the Ballina and Alstonville by-passes.
And as for the new Byron Hospital that the Coalition built ‘without an operating theatre’, the resumption of the land and most of the planning was again done by Bob Carr’s Labor government along with major upgrades of the Lismore Base Hospital.
Don Page was a very popular Nationals’ Member who lobbied hard but unsuccessfully for his Coalition government to build the Ballina bypass, and was rightly invited to attend the opening, the Labor Party never seriously contested the seat until 2015 when Don retired.
Keith Duncan, Pimlico