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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6417


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (16:37): I have a few questions for the minister to do with the Pacific Highway, but I want to make some comments first. I listened to the minister's contribution and also to the question by the member for Wide Bay, the Leader of the Nationals. I start with a quote from a media release by the NRMA. It was Monday, 27 February this year. The title of it was 'Stop passing the buck on Pacific Highway'. It says:

Calls by the NSW Government to change the funding model for the Pacific Highway from the current 50/50 spilt with the Federal Government is disingenuous and will do nothing to get the road upgraded by the 2016 deadline.

It goes on to say:

NRMA Motoring & Services President Wendy Machin said comments today by NSW Deputy-Premier Andrew Stoner on North Coast radio—

and comments I heard on my local radio—

would be concerning to communities waiting to see the road finally upgraded.

Another direct quote:

“It was the Howard Government that set the 50/50 funding split for the Pacific Highway from 2006 and the NRMA has supported this approach since day one,” Ms Machin said.

“While in Opposition, the current NSW Government frequently called on the NSW Labor Government to match federal funding for the Pacific Highway dollar-for-dollar and we supported this call too.

And there is more: I have pages and pages of quotes from the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, Andrew Stoner, and from the New South Wales roads minister, Duncan Gay, talking about meeting the deadline—always having a go as a good opposition would, correctly, at the government and saying, 'Put money in'. But as you heard from the minister, they did. I just find it really bizarre that the federal government is being called upon to adhere to this mythical 80-20 split. It does not exist; it never existed. There was stimulus money—

Mr Truss: It's in the agreement.

Ms SAFFIN: I know. I know what you are quoting from, honourable member for Wide Bay. I have seen it too in the nation-building program because there was stimulus money—there was extra money given. So you cannot even give something extra and have people say, 'Great, we have some extra money', all you do is turn it around and kick people in the teeth. I am fed up with it, because it is my local road and I am sick of having to be involved in this debate. The money needs to be there, fifty-fifty. It was no different to what Prime Minister Howard said at the time.

If you go back to the coalition's Auslink white paper of June 2004, it said, 'The government's objective is to duplicate the Pacific Highway by 2016, in partnership with the New South Wales Government.' It goes on to say, 'The government,' meaning the Howard government, 'will commence new duplication and upgrading projects by investing an additional $480 million. The New South Wales government will be expected to at least match this level of funding.' There is no different an expectation on the federal Labor government now.

Now, prior to the 2007 election the coalition's election policy 'Our 2020 plan for Australia's transport future' said, 'The coalition is willing to commit funds to fully duplicate the Pacific Highway by 2016 if New South Wales matches this commitment.' So what has happened to that? Is that a policy that has just been dropped, abolished, gone? Particularly by the Leader of the Nationals; you were once seen as the party that cared about roads and that funded roads. Where has that gone? I have only ever lived in areas that have generally been National Party and I just find it astonishing that we are having this debate in my local area on this.

Everybody has looked for this so-called 80-20 agreement. It does not exist. What you find in the state budget papers in New South Wales is:

The Australian Government’s Economic Stimulus Plan significantly increased capital expenditure in New South Wales in 2009-10 and 2010-11 ($3.0 billion and $1.7 billion, respectively). This expenditure effectively concludes in 2011-12 …

Which is as it should be: it was stimulus money. It finished, and to have it used to be kicked and beaten up on is just unconscionable.

Minister, my question is: how much money went into the Pacific Highway?