Roads to riches – or more of the same?

Byron’s potholes are notorious. But is it the council or successive Sydney-centric governments that are to blame? Photo supplied

In what many might think of as a contradiction in terms, the NSW Greens have pledged more money to fix Byron Shire’s roads than the ALP and Coalition combined.

Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith has lashed out at the Nationals’ last-minute election promise of $25 million to help fix the shire’s cracked-up and contorted carriageways, which is $9 million more than Labor promised two weeks previously.

Last week, state Nationals leader John Barilaro (referred to by social media wits as Pork Barilaro) miraculously found $25 million to offer Byron Shire voters if they tip out Ms Smith and install the Nats’candidate Ben Franklin.

Let’s be clear: the National Party, during its previously uninterrupted 27-year reign in Ballina, starved the seat – and Byron Shire in particular – of funds. That’s why the roads are in such a shocking state.

Now that they are desperate for ‘their’ seat back, cash is pouring from the Coalition’s coffers in a deluge of promises.

Except that, according to Ms Smith, its road-funding promise is nowhere near enough to do the job properly.

And Labor’s promise is even more piffling, she said.

Ms Smith said the Coalition’s ‘lack of commitment that the funding would go beyond a year highlights what a desperate, cheap election stunt this announcement actually is’.

‘The NRMA tell us that $70 million is the bare minimum needed to fix the backlog of road repairs in Byron Shire and yet the Nats are only pledging 1/3 of what’s required and Labor are pledging less than 1/4 of what’s required.’

Ms Smith said the Greens had ‘a commitment to invest $195 million to fixing our roads across the region, with $70 million for the Byron Shire’.

‘We are the only party with a plan to end pork barrelling and institute a non-political system of funding the roads, repairs, toilets and community facilities that Byron needs to cope with the high number of tourists and visitors it gets every year,’ Ms Smith said.

Cheap election stunt or not, sadly it’s the most that the electorate are likely to see, since it’s unlikely the Greens will be in a position to hold the balance of power in the lower house.

Still, even these much lesser amounts probably wouldn’t be on the table if Ms Smith wasn’t in the seat.

Chris Dobney is not a member of any political party. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.

Got a queestion for the politicians trying to win your vote in Ballina? Email [email protected]com and come to the Byron Theatre at 6pm Monday March 18 for your chance to ask.

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3 responses to “Roads to riches – or more of the same?”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    To fix the roads is a bottomless pit in economics. It all depends on the standard you want to build the roadway?
    Which roads do not get potholes? Australia’s main highways. And how many cars, trucks and buses run on our main highways? There may be a 1000 vehicles run over a certain spot on our highways per hour, day and night. A pothole forms from the bottom up, not from the top down, so it all depends in the road base under the bitumen. When that road base is thick with many different aggregates and layers of blue metal and gravel the water in rain does not travel upward to seep in-between the road base and the bitumen. With pounding pounding, pounding of tyres over it the road base and the bitumen stays glued together. When the road base is thin, the water seeps upwards and gets in between the bitumen and the gravel and the bitumen begins to move.
    All tyres have tread and in dry weather the tread flattens from the weight of the vehicle and when the tyre turns the tread becomes upright again and that causes a suction. The tyres tread sucks at the roadway and tries to pull it upwards. That can be seen on a wet road as the tyres are designed to force the water out between the tyre and the road so there is less lubricant for skidding. When there is water under the road the road bitumen begins to bend and break and it deteriorates and in an instant you have a pothole. If Councis had as much money as the Federal government there would be no potholes in Council roads.

  2. Paul Spooner says:

    Oh, please! Is this article fake news? Where is the commentary asking what has been achieved for Byron Shire’s roads over the last 4 years with a Greens local member? If they couldn’t deliver in this term how are they going to deliver $70 million now?

    It may feel nice to vote for the Greens but if you want something done you need to vote for a party that will deliver government to NSW.

    The smart money is now on Asren Pugh to take the seat locally and the Labor Party to take the state on March 23.

  3. Paul Edwards says:

    ….and where does Ms Smith expect to get the money from again? Sorry, but I want our roads fixed and our infrastructure improved and that is something the Greens have never been able to deliver on.

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