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Thursday, 23 March 2023
Page: 44

Mr GEE (Calare) (13:36): Since the days of the gold rush, the communities of the Central West of New South Wales have been advocating for a new crossing over the Macquarie River at Dixons Long Point between Mudgee and Orange. At the moment it takes about two hours and 20 minutes to drive between the two, but the most direct route is via Dixons Long Point. With no crossing, the only way through is straight through the water. An improved road and crossing at Dixons Long Point would drastically reduce the travel time between Orange and Mudgee. It would provide access to vehicles all year round, withstand flood events and improve connectivity between the Central West and Hunter Valley regions, which would drive economic growth and tourism in the area. We could have used it during the recent bushfires.

Substantial funding had been committed under the Roads of Strategic Importance program by the previous government. Geotech work had been carried out, and the project was even put out to tender. Together, with local Indigenous groups, we cooperatively and respectfully worked through cultural heritage concerns and addressed them to find a way forward, and there was still $27.8 million in fully allocated funding sitting there in that kitty to get the project moving. Where is it now? Why can't any of it be used? One hundred and seventy years is a long time to wait for this crossing. I urge the government to back this game-changing project for our region. Get behind Dixons Long Point.