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Slippery Albanese put skids on Pacific Highway completion



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Nationals Media Release

17 October 2012

Slippery Albanese put skids on Pacific Highway completion

“ANTHONY Albanese’s 2016 deadline for fixing the Pacific Highway is dead. Now he is playing the blame game trying to shift responsibility - apparently, it is the Coalition’s fault that he has failed his ministerial responsibility to fix it,” Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Warren Truss said today.

“As Minister, Mr Albanese chose the slippery road of political bickering with the new NSW government over the safe highway NSW mid and north coast communities desperately need.

“It is the Gillard government that is trying to change the funding rules for duplicating the Pacific Highway.

“The funding deal for new Pacific Highway projects with the NSW government, signed by Mr Albanese on 4 June 2009, enshrined an 80:20 federal/state split, but Labor started backing away from the deal the instant the NSW Coalition won the state election last year.

“Since then Mr Albanese has choked off funding and engaged in bitter, sneering partisan politics, insisting on 50:50 finance from NSW. That has left communities along the NSW mid and north coast stranded in limbo.

“The debt-ridden NSW government simply does not have the money to match investment dollar-for-dollar with the federal government, and Mr Albanese knows it. He reneged on the 80:20 deal and is blaming everyone else for the funding shortfall his penny-pinching has caused.

“Today Mr Albanese showed the audacity and duplicity for which he is renowned. He is trying to squirm his way out of responsibility for his own failure to meet the 2016 deadline while starving the Pacific Highway of the $7 billion needed to finish the duplication.

“Infrastructure and Transport Secretary Mike Mrdak’s revelation in Senate Estimates yesterday that delays in finishing the Pacific Highway upgrade would inevitably lead to cost blow-outs is hardly surprising.

“What is breathtaking is that Minister Albanese, as the man responsible for blowing the 2016 deadline out of the water, has the temerity to blame the Coalition for his glaring failure.

“We are not the government. When we are we will ensure the Pacific Highway is fully funded as a national priority and completed as soon as humanly possible.

“Until then, every day that Labor remains in government and every day that Mr Albanese refuses to release funding he previously committed, is a day longer before the Pacific Highway can be completed.

“The Minister’s callous and unconscionable actions have made the 2016 deadline unachievable and the cost blow-outs heralded by his department are on his head.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6277 4482 or 0467 650 020 or brett.heffernan@aph.gov.au