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]