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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1150

Mr OAKESHOTT (3:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Following the worst bus crashes in Australian history at Clybucca and Grafton, the then coroner in 1989, Kevin Waller, made a very clear recommendation that dual carriageway on the Pacific Highway from Hexham to the Queensland border was critical. Since then we on the North Coast of New South Wales have seen over 20,000 injuries and over 900 deaths on a highway that remains single-lane in too many spots. We have also seen subsequent state and federal governments come and go alongside promises of completion dates which also come and go. So, Prime Minister, will you commit to the current completion date of 2016 and, if so, will you commit to some urgent injections of funds into the forward estimates?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for his question. I know this is an issue that he has raised consistently in this parliament and beyond and has campaigned on, and it is one of key concern to the community that he represents in this parliament. I say to the member who has raised this question that I can very much commit to him that the government is committed to duplicating the Pacific Highway by 2016. I would note for the member and for other members of the House who are interested in this question that the government is investing more than twice as much funding in half the time as the previous government. We are investing $3.1 billion over six years—

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms GILLARD —I am sure the members interjecting would acknowledge that that is the largest investment in a single road. This compares to a track record over 12 years in office of an investment of $1.3 million. So investments and financial allocations are being made and being made quickly.

This level of investment is actually showing progress and work. As the member is probably aware, right now today we have more than 1,000 workers on site at various parts of the road working on various bypasses and upgrades to make a difference to people who use the road. We have brought forward $35 million to accelerate planning work between Port Macquarie and Kempsey to get that section shovel ready. We will continue making this work a key priority in the next funding program and we will deliver the Pacific Highway by 2016.

Mr Hartsuyker —Can the Prime Minister table the notes from which she was reading?

The SPEAKER —Was the Prime Minister referring to a document?

Ms Gillard —I was referring to a document.

The SPEAKER —Was the document confidential?

Ms Gillard —Yes, it was.