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Budget 2006: Funding snub for Pacific Highway is a National's disgrace.

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Michael Forshaw

Senator for New South Wales

Telephone: (02) 9545 3112 Facsimile: (02) 9545 3119


"The irrelevance of North Coast National Party MP's in the Coalition Government has been starkly demonstrated by the failure in the Budget to adequately fund desperately needed Pacific Highway improvements," NSW Labor Senator Michael Forshaw said today.

"Obviously, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party, Mark Vaile, lacks influence inside the Cabinet or is oblivious to the needs of North Coast constituents and the travelling public.

"People living on the North Coast have every expectation that their elected representatives will vigorously pursue adequate funding for the Pacific Highway. Instead we get total silence from Mark Vaile, Ian Causley (Page) and Luke Hartsuyker (Cowper),"Senator Forshaw said.

"The North Coast is represented by half the total NSW National Party Members of the House Representatives including its leader. Yet they have only been able to secure funding of $1 on the Pacific Highway for every $5 to be spent on the Hume Highway.

"There were 2016 crashes on the Pacific Highway in 2004 - the highest of any road in Australia. It is our most neglected highway. Yet the bulk of roads funding in the Budget has gone to the Hume Highway ($800 million), and to other states particularly Western Australia ($323 million) and Queensland ($268 million). The extra $160 million for the Pacific Highway is less than half what the Government spends each year on consultants fees!

Each year up to 1,900 Australians are killed on our roads and almost 22,000 are seriously injured. The total economic cost of this road trauma exceeds $15 billion each year. More than 15,700 Australians have been killed on our roads since the Howard Government won office in 1996.

"Road trauma is costing Australians as much as the Budget surplus. Yet the Government chooses to spend only $2.3 billion on arresting this financial and social blight to Australia. What's even more insulting is the Government openly boasts the budget will still deliver it a $10 billion surplus each year.

"Surely, it is time for the National Party members on the North Coast to stand up to their political masters and demand that more funds be directed immediately to improving the safety of the Pacific Highway.

"It's time to stop hiding behind the pretext that the Pacific Highway is not a recognised Federal Highway and therefore a State responsibility. The Pacific Highway is far too big a project for any State Government. It is beholden on the

Federal Government to act in the safety and financial interests of all Australians by reducing the annual cost of road trauma," Senator Forshaw said

11 May 2006