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Pacific Highway another casualty of Oakeshott's lost credibility

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Pacific Highway another casualty of Oakeshott’s lost credibility

19th October, 2012

A MONTH ago Rob Oakeshott took credit for the $2.08 billion Warren Truss announced a Coalition government will redirect from the Epping-Parramatta rail line to fully fund and complete the Pacific Highway upgrade.

Today Mr Oakeshott says that money isn’t ‘real’.

“You can’t have it both ways, Rob,” Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Mr Truss declared in response.

This week, the head of the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport confirmed the $2.08 billion is where it has always been, in the Federal Budget Contingency Fund, shattering Mr Oakeshott’s phony claim that he had secured the transfer earlier this year.

Mr Oakeshott’s garbled defence today for this eye-popping revelation is that the Contingency Fund isn’t part of the Federal Budget so the money isn’t real.

Really? Even Anthony Albanese recognises that the Contingency Fund is part of the Federal Budget, saying in his media release of 15 September 2012:

‘As the Federal Budget Papers confirm, Mr Abbott’s proposal to cancel the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link project would only free up $67.9 million between now and 2016. The bulk of the remaining funding he wants to redirect from this project to the Highway wouldn’t begin flowing until 2017/18 ($750 million) and 2018/19 ($562.1 million)’.

“While the Coalition has made it clear we will fast-track and re-route this future rail funding to the Pacific Highway as part of our AusLink roads package in 2014-15, it makes Mr Oakeshott’s defence is quite ridiculous,” Mr Truss explained.

“Mr Oakeshott’s ‘reading of the budget’ was either ignorant of budget provisions and processes or he is deliberately trying to muddy the waters. The fact that Labor had not committed to finishing the Epping-Parramatta rail line within four years is irrelevant to the funding being available. The money is very real.

“Federal Labor reneged on its 80:20 funding agreement with NSW on the Pacific Highway, pulling funds until the new NSW Coalition Government coughs up 50:50. Rob Oakeshott turns a blind eye.

“This leaves the duplication of the Pacific Highway unfunded. Rob Oakeshott is deaf to this reality.

“It means the 2016 deadline for completion cannot be met. Rob Oakeshott is silent on Labor’s failure.

“Rob Oakeshott can try to muddy the waters as much as he likes, the bottom line is that under a Coalition Government the Pacific Highway will be fully funded and completed as soon as physically possible. Under Labor and Rob Oakeshott it won’t.

“The Coalition will ensure the $3.5 billion Labor is withholding unless NSW matches it dollar-for-dollar is fully released and the additional $2.08 billion I announced last month will dovetail with than funding, coming online in 2014.”