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Monday, 24 March 2014
Page: 2909

Mr HOGAN (Page) (21:24): On Friday, I had the pleasure of opening a new section of dual carriageway on the Pacific Highway known as Devils Pulpit. The upgrade involved the construction of seven kilometres of dual carriageway situated between the centres of Ballina and Grafton, at a cost of $80 million. There are many reasons, economic and otherwise, why we wanted to complete this section of dual carriageway. One of the main reasons was to reduce fatalities. It has been well proven that dual carriageways reduce fatalities. At the opening on Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr and Mrs Thomas, whose daughter was tragically killed on this section of the road about seven or eight years ago. In a way, they were there to celebrate the opening of this section of road. However, it was a very sobering reminder to me that, while we invest in road upgrades for many reasons, reducing fatalities has to be the primary one. It would be good, at this time, to remind ourselves that fatalities on New South Wales roads have fallen, and have fallen drastically. In fact, fatalities around New South Wales are now at 1930s levels. Again, to meet people who have so tragically been affected by road accidents was very sobering.

The upgrade of the remaining section of this highway is a $7 billion project and the federal government is committing over $5 billion to it. In some ways, I must commend the previous government. The Howard government was the first federal government to start committing serious federal funds to the Pacific Highway, moving towards a fifty-fifty funding split with state governments. The previous government moved towards an eighty-twenty split, which they continued with for many years and then, with the change in state government, they decided to revert to a fifty-fifty split. At the last election, the project was an issue in my electorate and I am very proud of the fact that we, as a coalition, stepped up and said that we would not revert to the fifty-fifty split. We recognised the very important nature of this project and we said that, if elected, we would maintain the 80 per cent federal government funding. We awarded the tender for the Pimlico to Teven bypass in the first few weeks of government, and one of the first things that I did as the newly elected member for Page after the September election was to go with the member for Ballina, Don Page, to Pimlico and turn the first sod for what was a very important part of the road just south of Ballina.

Although fatalities are the most important part of the discussion on roads, we also need to mention the economic benefits of this project. The direct jobs involved in this project go into the thousands—I think it is around 2,000 to 3,000 jobs. You can multiply the numbers employed directly by about two to three times to determine the indirect benefits that it will produce. Once finished, the upgrade will also bring increased tourism and business opportunities. As the Prime Minister has continually said that he wants to be the infrastructure Prime Minister, it is with some sobriety—bearing in mind the primary reason that we are doing this—but also great pride that we are continuing to fund these important infrastructure projects in my electorate. Last Friday was a great day, opening the Devils Pulpit section. The section has experienced a number of fatalities over the last 10 years—it was a very dangerous section of the road—and the duplication has been made a priority over the last few years.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! It being 9.30 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 21:30 pm.