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Labor: road funding for the nation.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

 

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP

 

LABOR: ROAD FUNDING FOR THE NATION

 

A Beazley Labor Government will provide over $500 million to build the Sydney Western Orbital and add the Great Western Hig hway to the National Highway.

 

These are the two most ambitious projects in Labor’s National Highway Extension Program. Labor will provide $15 million per year for 8 years starting in 1999/2000 to upgrade the Great Western Highway and $50 million per year for 8 years from 2001 /02 to build the Sydney Western Orbital.

 

A Federal Labor Government will work with the New South Wales Government to develop a funding agreement for these projects. When the works are complete the roads will become part of the National Highway with all future funding responsibility resting with the Commonwealth Government.

 

The New South Wales Government has been trying for several years to get federal funding for the Great Western Highway under the Howard Government’s Roads of National Importance Program. Only during the election has the Howard Government shown any interest.

 

Labor’s proposal for the Great Western Highway is superior to that of the Coalitions in two respects. First, it is does not place an unreasonable burden on the NSW roads budget in the way that John Howard’s plan does, requiring NSW to abandon other projects in order to proceed with this one.

 

Secondly, Labor’s proposal will ensure that the Great Western Highway is given the status that it deserves as part of the National Highway.

 

The Sydney Western Orbital is one of the most significant integrated transport projects ever to be undertaken in Australia. Not only will it deliver traffic relief in the western suburbs and reduce the time taken to get through Sydney by more than an hour, it will also provide for the future development of public transport services in western Sydney with bikeways and a rail corridor.

 

There will be no tolls on this road and it will be built irrespective of where Sydney’s second airport is to be located.

 

The previous Labor Government was committed to building the Western Orbital. However, by the time of the Howard Government’s last Budget, all funding commitments for the project had been removed from the National Highway budget.

 

This road will provide significant economic, social and environmental benefits to the people of western Sydney and the nation. It will create many jobs during construction and will facilitate economic development along its route while significantly reducing traffic on local and arterial urban roads. It will be one of Australia’s greatest ever land transport projects.

 

The Coalition has cut National Highway funding by $634 million, put in place a program to cut maintenance spending by half.

 

Labor has outlined a plan for Australia’s road system that focuses on repairing the Howard Government’s neglect of the National Highway.

 

PENRITH

22 September 1998

 

 

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