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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 150

Mr TICEHURST (11:18 AM) —I am extremely pleased to have secured federal funding for three local road projects on the Central Coast, including the Warnervale Link Road, Dickson Road at Jilliby and Brush Road at Ourimbah. These roads have been funded under the coalition government’s very successful AusLink strategic regional program, which was allocated an extra $250 million in the last federal budget. This additional road funding will greatly improve the safety of roads in the Dobell electorate as well as provide alternative routes for drivers to alleviate traffic flow and provide better linkages between suburbs.

Many of our local roads are in need of upgrading. We have had a large influx of people into the area from Sydney for the relaxed lifestyle it offers. As a result, our roads are very strained. Councils are struggling to keep up with the necessary upgrades, with little or no help from the state Labor government. Main arterial links, such as the Pacific Highway and The Entrance Road, are just not coping because the New South Wales government has been slow to upgrade them. We did see some activity prior to the March election on about 400 metres in two spots on The Entrance Road and another two spots on the Pacific Highway. In stark contrast, after the election the road projects seemed to slow down.

I am pleased to have secured this funding for our councils so we can alleviate the traffic burden from some of our local roads. Local residents are thrilled with the announcement of $3 million in federal funding to help build the link road from Britannia Drive at Watanobbi to Sparks Road at Warnervale. This is on top of the $2½ million that we secured for the road prior to the previous election. The new road will better connect the Wyong township with the rapidly growing Warnervale region, improving travel times between these suburbs. This project has received my strong support because it reduces traffic on the Pacific Highway. It will also ease through traffic on residential streets, including, for example, Minnesota Road at Hamlyn Terrace, making the area safer for families and the elderly. Some $5½ million is now available to Wyong Shire Council to build this link road. I will keep the pressure on the council to ensure that this vital project is delivered to the community as soon as possible.

By working in partnership with the community, I have been able to secure $800,000 to realign, widen and provide an initial seal to an 800-metre gravel section of Dickson Road in Jilliby. A number of crashes have occurred on Dickson Road and this upgrade will significantly improve road safety for local residents. Brush Road will also receive $1.35 million for the construction of the remaining 900-metre gravel section of the road. This road links Ourimbah to Tumbi Umbi and will provide a safe and viable alternative route to the heavily congested Pacific Highway and the Ourimbah interchange for residents and local industry. It will also provide a local link to the university campus.

The AusLink program is Australia’s biggest ever infrastructure program, recognising the importance of safe and well-maintained road systems for all Australians. It is only as a result of the Howard government’s strong economic management over the past decade that the Howard government is able to deliver these real and practical benefits to our local community. In addition, the Australian government has so far invested nearly $500 million under the black spot program to fund safety works such as roundabouts, crash barriers and street lights at places where there have been serious crashes or where serious crashes are likely. In the Dobell electorate, since 1996 we have received $4.75 million under the black spot program. It has made an enormous difference to our local roads.

In recognition of its success, the Australian government increased the funding of this program by 33 per cent to $60 million annually. As well, it extended the program until 2014. This is in stark contrast to Labor’s scrapping of the highly successful black spot program when they were last in government. It is estimated that by June 2008 the Howard government’s reintroduction of the program will have fixed 4,200 road hazards around Australia, thus saving at least 130 lives and preventing around 6,000 serious crashes, which would have occurred under the Labor cutbacks.

The Labor Party has repeatedly tried to cut back the black spot program. In fact, in 2004 its then leader, Mark Latham, announced that Labor would scrap the program to bale out his state Labor mates, who were not funding public hospital emergency departments properly. Labor’s bright idea was to spend more money on state government public hospital emergency departments so they could deal with the increase in road accidents. Any increased pressure on the already problem-fraught state hospital system would be caused by Labor’s decision to cut the black spot program.

In direct contrast, the Howard government has increased funding to further improve the safety and quality of and ease the congestion of our roads, which state Labor has failed to do. Locally, I remain committed to supporting the Central Coast lifestyle and ensuring adequate infrastructure is in place for our growing community. I will continue to fight for more funding for our local roads.