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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4403


Mrs ELLIOT (RichmondParliamentary Secretary for Trade) (09:52): I rise today to talk about the federal Labor government's massive commitment to upgrading the Pacific Highway in my electorate on the North Coast and what a difference it has made to the lives of people on the North Coast and also many visitors to our area. First of all we have the upgrade at Banora Point, which is almost completed, and I will speak in detail about that shortly. We also have the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade, which is starting construction soon. There is $554 million in federal funding towards the T to E, as we call it.

The Banora Point upgrade is the one I want to focus on today. This upgrade of the Pacific Highway is one that the community has spoken about for years on end. The community has been desperate to see it upgraded, and the fact is that previous state and federal governments just did not commit the funding to it. It was the federal Labor government that committed the funding. Prior to the federal election in 2007 we committed to fund the upgrade at Banora Point. We understood how important it was for safety reasons to have that upgrade of the Pacific Highway happening. So we made that commitment and then we delivered that funding. It was part of the economic stimulus package. Of course, that was really important in terms of not just the infrastructure upgrade but also the local jobs. In fact, about 400 people have been employed in constructing this wonderful upgrade. The federal funding for that is $347 million, a major commitment, and there is $10 million from the previous state government that was committed as well.

So, as I said, we delivered that funding as part of the stimulus package. The sod turning was great; we did that in December 2009. I was very pleased to be there that day turning the sod on a fantastic local project. Since then we have seen it develop very well in its construction. We have had some major milestones recently with the community day and the opening up of the southbound lanes, which is fantastic. Very shortly we will have the northbound lanes open as well. If everything goes well time-wise, we expect to have the project fully completed by June this year and opened in August, which is a real credit to the RTA and all those people that have worked so hard to make that happen. This has occurred because the federal Labor government made that major commitment of $347 million towards this upgrade. We are very proud of that commitment, and I would certainly like to congratulate everyone in the community who worked so hard towards that.

I also note that last night we made an announcement about further funding for the Pacific Highway, calling upon the New South Wales state government to match that funding so we could finish that duplication. We need them to come on board and be as committed as the federal Labor government is to making sure that we get the Pacific Highway upgrade. We have seen the impact that it has. Certainly in my electorate it has made a big difference, and I commend everyone in the community who worked so hard towards it. I have also seen our local state member now trying to take a bit of credit for it. Considering he did not contribute one cent to it and opposed it for many years, which is a real pity, I would like to see him get on board and celebrate this new, wonderful road and the fact that it is the federal Labor government that delivered the upgrade at Sextons Hill.