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Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Page: 11883

Mr FITZGIBBON (2:59 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How is the government’s road infrastructure investment in the Hunter and on the mid-North Coast of New South Wales progressing? How is the investment helping to improve safety and to create jobs in local communities?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Hunter for his question and for his advocacy of the Hunter Expressway—a very important infrastructure development that is getting underway under the Rudd government. This morning I have announced that we are moving forward on three important road projects in New South Wales. In the Hunter we have selected the private alliance that will help build the eastern section of the Hunter Expressway along with the RTA. This clears the way for construction work on this long overdue project to commence early next year. There was $1.5 billion allocated in this year’s federal budget with construction work scheduled to start within months. It will support up to 800 jobs in the short term while building the infrastructure that we need for the Hunter in the long term.

On the New South Wales mid-North Coast we have also selected the private alliance that will work with the RTA to deliver the Kempsey bypass. There was $618 million allocated in this year’s federal budget and 450 jobs, boosting the region’s local economy. Importantly, we are wasting no time to commence further work on the Pacific Highway. This morning I announced that we are investing $57.6 million in conjunction with the New South Wales government to get the Frederickton to Eungai section of the highway shovel ready. The horrific Kempsey bus crash, which claimed 35 lives, happened on this section of road almost 20 years ago. Despite this, the necessary planning and pre-construction work to duplicate this section of road has not yet been done. Under the Nation Building Program we are making it a key priority to get this project ready for construction. This pre-construction work will identify potential engineering challenges, calculate accurate costings, undertake the necessary land acquisition and determine a reliable construction timetable. This will all enable us to begin major construction on this project following the completion of the Kempsey bypass.

The Rudd Labor government is investing some $3.1 billion over six years on the Pacific Highway—close to three times as much as the coalition spent over double the period of time. Over 12 years the coalition spent $1.3 billion; under this government $3.1 billion over six years. We are committed to delivering better and safer roads. This is important. It is creating jobs in the short term while building the infrastructure that this nation needs for the long term.