Potholes in Boyd St, Tweed Heads.
Potholes in Boyd St, Tweed Heads. John Gass /TWE300112hole

Fill the potholes to win

FORGET about stopping the boats. 

Anyone serious about wanting to win the next Federal election should adopt "fill the potholes" as their rallying cry - on the Northern Rivers at least.

A survey of 400 voters across the Page electorate, commissioned by the NRMA, found potholes, along with the Pacific Highway and widening some of our rural roads to be the top roads-related issues for voters.

The potholes and the road widening could prove tricky for our Federal MP and her Nationals challenger, with those issues traditionally falling to local and state governments.

However, as former US Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neill once famously noted, "all politics is local" and voters can be unforgiving of politicians who draw demarcation lines on what problems they will and will not address.

Page MP Janelle Saffin is currently on her annual teaching trip to Burma and could not be reached for comment.

However, Page Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan said he was not surprised by the result and a survey he had done in the Page electorate late last year also listed potholes among the biggest issues in the electorate.

"We started the Roads to Recovery program, which I think this government has continued, which gave money to local councils and we would be looking to maintain that," Mr Hogan said.

Mr Hogan agreed councils, many of which are struggling with their roads budgets, needed a stronger source of funding and backed the push by the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation for Councils for constitutional recognition.

However, he was less certain about the idea of councils receiving a share of GST funding, which is one of the key factors behind the push for constitutional recognition, noting the states would be loath to give up any of their own GST revenue.

"Local governments need a degree of certainty and a better funding model than they have now," he said.

The survey also confirmed the race for Page remained wide open with nearly half of voters conceding they had either not decided who to vote for or could change their minds between now and election day on September 14.

Unfortunately the company that did the poll for the NRMA - UMR Research - declined to release detailed results of who had come out ahead in the poll or the voting intentions of the 53% of respondents who said they had made their minds up.

An NRMA spokesman said the poll was a snapshot of public opinion "three or four" weeks ago and too much time had now passed.

Page was one of 10 electorates surveyed for the NRMA. The others were Parramatta, Robertson, Lindsay, Greenway, Eden-Monaro, Macquarie, Paterson, Reid, and New England.

That said, the poll remained a useful guide on issues relevant to the coming election.

Along with the push to fix potholes, the Pacific Highway, and to widen roads, the survey also found:

  • 90% of voters backed a suggestion the next government should get trucks off the road by increasing its investment in freight rail;
  • 85% agreed the entire $15bln a year fuel excise should be spent on roads, compared to current $3.5bln  currently being used to buy and lay bitumen.

NRMA Motoring & Services president Wendy Machin said the release of the poll came at the same time as the launch of the organisation's Seeing Red on Roads survey.

"We know that politicians take notice of mass community campaigns like Seeing Red on Roads and we know they pay extra special attention in an election year," Ms Machin said.

"That's why the NRMA is urging Page drivers to have their say again this year at mynrma.com.au/redflag. The polling shows roads that matter to voters, politicians vying for a vote this election know that roads matter and the NRMA will ensure your voice is heard."

The survey remains open until June 14.


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