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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7005

Mrs ELLIOT (RichmondParliamentary Secretary for Trade) (15:52): How incredibly disappointing yet not surprising that speech by the Leader of the National Party was. It was the same old story, the same old misleading statements. He could not table that fanciful document that he was quoting from; he refused to do that. He was just trying to change the goalposts and the rules. He signed a memorandum of understanding; he knows what the facts are in relation to this. He and the National Party really do represent so much of how they have let down the people of regional New South Wales, particularly those people on the mid- to North Coast of New South Wales. They have done it across so many areas and in so many particular programs that they have not fulfilled, and people are realising now that the National Party just cannot deliver.

We heard before from the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport about those state coalition seats right up and down the coast. None of those National Party members could get their Liberal masters in Sydney to commit to this funding. It shows how ineffective they are. They are ineffective at a state level; they are ineffective at a federal level. We see it; I know I see it in my area on the North Coast. It is not just when it comes to roads; it is in other areas as well. They are just incapable of delivering anything when it comes to state funding—totally incapable. It is particularly highlighted when we look at what is happening now with the Pacific Highway and the funding for it. The fact is that they have just not been able to bring forward any of the commitment we need from the state government in relation to this. This is an issue of such extreme importance when we look at upgrading the highway, the safety provisions and those improved road conditions.

I and, I know, many other local members have a very strong commitment to ensuring we have that upgrade. I have a personal perspective. As a former police officer I was involved in attending many fatal traffic accidents, and I have a very strong commitment to road upgrades wherever we can have them and am very proud of the commitments that this government has made. It sickens me when we see the state governments not just weaselling out of their commitments on one hand, but also what I have seen in my area, which is them then trying to make a fanciful claim that somehow there has been a cut in funding and they cannot fund all the commitments they made prior to the last election. They are misleading on so many fronts. That is very typical of the National Party. That is how they respond to things because they just cannot deliver.

In May we saw in our federal budget that we would inject an extra $3.56 billion into Pacific Highway funding if it were matched by the New South Wales government. That would mean full duplication by the end of 2016. We have made that very clear to them. We are asking them to fulfil the commitment that they made prior to the last state election. They came out and said that they wanted to have those funding arrangements in place. In fact, they were calling on the previous state Labor government to match that. We continue to call upon the current state government to do that. If they matched our commitment it would take the spending on this road to more than $7.7 billion over nine years, compared to the Howard government's record of just $1.3 billion over 12 years. We will continue to call upon them to make sure that they honour that.

Of course, the betrayal of our North Coast communities began last Tuesday with the state budget. Despite the fact that the state government kept saying that they supported matching the fifty-fifty federal-state funding, they failed to deliver. We were all there waiting for it, waiting to see it in their budget. There was nothing; they failed to do it. Not only did they not match the funding, not only did they not commit to the fifty-fifty funding; on top of that they cut $300 million from their roads funding. Doing that made it even worse. They were just playing politics and cutting the funding. Now we have the Leader of the National Party walking away from previous commitments. He did not really say what they were going to do now. He was just waving pieces of paper around and talking about false memorandums of understanding. He cannot really give us a definitive date when they are going to do it or, if they were in government, what they would commit. They have no credibility on many issues, and they certainly have none on the Pacific Highway.

In comparison, we have a very strong commitment. We have heard a number of quotes but there is one I would like to give from the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, on 8 March 2011. He said:

Only the NSW Liberals and Nationals are committed to completing the upgrade of the Pacific Highway by 2016.

It is very convenient that he said that prior to the last state election. We certainly heard a lot of National Party members up and down the North Coast saying the same sorts of things and calling on the state Labor government to match that funding. They have all gone quiet now. They are all in hiding, as they always are—every single one of them—because they have been unable to deliver that.

I would like to speak briefly about some of the funding in my seat, particularly the Sexton Hill upgrade, which is just about to be completed. This upgrade was funded by $349 million from the federal government and $10 million from the previous state government. The completion of it means that you can hop in a car in the Brisbane CBD and you will have no traffic lights until you hit Coffs Harbour. This is pretty amazing and it shows what can happen when you do get a major commitment to the Pacific Highway. The state member up there, Geoff Provest, really highlights how ineffective the National Party have been when we look at this issue of Sexton Hill. First of all, he was against the construction of the road and the design of the road. He bagged out the RTA at every given opportunity. He came along recently when we had the minister for transport up there talking about opening the northbound lane to the Pacific Highway at Sexton Hill. He had a bit of a tantrum and left. He has not really contributed anything. He has not contributed 1c. Mind you, he puts out a lot of brochures, trying to claim a lot of the funding for it, but they are pretty desperate attempts.

But what I think really upset people was that when we had the announcement of the state budget, of course the state National Party MP for Tweed, Geoff Provest, was not able to deliver on any of his particular funding initiatives. In particular, he promised prior to the last election that there would be funding to upgrade the western side of Kirkwood Road. There was no money to do that. He also promised money for a homeless shelter. We have not seen that delivered. He also promised funding for a high school at Pottsville. We did not see any of that. But do you know what he is now claiming as the reason why he cannot that funding? He is misleading people by saying, 'I cannot deliver funding because the federal government has reduced funding for the Pacific Highway.'

This is a double lie. First of all, they did not match our funding. Then they cut $300 million from their Pacific Highway funding. Now they are trying to use that as the excuse because they are incapable of getting any money, because the fact is they cannot deliver on so many levels. What makes it worse for people of the North Coast is that we are seeing billions of dollars going into infrastructure in Sydney. We saw over $3 billion go into the north-west rail link. We keep seeing all this money that the state government is committing to for Sydney. We are not seeing any for the North Coast; it has been completely forgotten. The National Party are completely incapable of getting funding out of their Liberal masters, and people are realising that. I highlight further what this state member is doing—it gets better. First he says, 'I can't deliver anything because the federal government cut the funding for the Pacific Highway.' Then he says, 'That's why—that's what makes it all very difficult.' Then he goes on to say that, for the road he could not fund because he never had the money to do it, they are now looking at a proposal from a private company to build an interchange on the Pacific Highway in Tweed Heads South. People are starting to say: 'So you can't get any funding out of Sydney and you make up a lot of lies. Are you now going to be putting toll roads in Tweed Heads? Is that going to be your approach?' This has upset quite a lot of people, and they are certainly aware that he has not been able to deliver. I can tell you that people are not going to be impressed that not only are they not getting their funding requirements out of the state government but they are also having to pay tolls on roads because he promised and cannot deliver on his promises at all.

At the end of the day, people such as my state member Geoff Provest and all the National Party members up and down the coast have to stop making excuses and stop misleading people. Instead, they have to get in there and make their voices heard by the National Party and the Liberal Party to get the funding. If you cannot do it—if you cannot do your job—then step aside and get somebody who can deliver for the North Coast and secure the funding not just for the Pacific Highway but also for everything else. Is this the start of the next few years when they will not be able to deliver anything at all? People are already sick of all the excuses and all the misleading statements. These members have to start standing up and getting results, particularly on issues that are really important and almost above politics, such as this funding of the Pacific Highway.

We have put the offer out there. It is more than $3.5 billion for them to match at fifty-fifty. That is as per their memorandums of understanding—it is what they called for prior to getting into government in New South Wales. We are asking them to honour it, to match it and to join with us and finish this stretch of the Pacific Highway. It is such an important issue for safety and for road upgrades for the people of New South Wales and others travelling in the area. It is now up to the state National Party members up and down the coast. As we know, there are many of them up and down the coast as you go north of Sydney. It is time for them to stand up and deliver, because this issue is so important. The federal Labor government has continued to deliver. (Time expired)