COWPER MP Luke Hartsuyker has raised concerns over Federal Government claims that work will commence on more than $3 billion worth of new Pacific Hwy projects before the middle of next year.
During a speech in parliament yesterday, Mr Hartsuyker questioned the Government's claims.
Given no additional funding was committed in this week's Federal Budget, a question he believes is well worth asking.
"The new projects had a cumulative cost of more than $3 billion," Mr Hartsuyker said to the House.
"Such a substantial commitment would be very welcome, if only it could be believed.
"Despite Minister's Albanese media release, when you go through last night's budget papers there is not one mention of the Pacific Hwy and not one extra dollar of funding detailed in the 2013-14 budget papers.
"There is not one mention of the Pacific Hwy in the budget papers, yet there is a media release from the minister claiming that more than $3.3 billion in projects is set to commence.
"The government is treating North Coast residents as mugs.
"They are playing with people's lives, all for the sake of a headline."
Mr Hartsuyker contiunued by stating funding for future projects on the highway is in limbo because of a stand-off between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales government.
"When the O'Farrell government was elected to office, federal minister Albanese immediately tore up the 80:20 Pacific Highway funding model which had previously existed between federal Labor and the state Labor government," the Cowper MP said.
"Instead the minister began insisting on 50:50 funding and as a result there is a $4 billion funding black hole which has to be filled if the road's duplication is to be completed.
"Since changing the funding arrangements we have seen the federal government concoct all sorts of excuses for changing the funding model.
"The most recent came from the federal member for Page who was put on the spot after the Gillard government announced that it would fund upgrades to the Bruce Highway based on the 80:20 model with the Queensland government."
Mr Hartsuyker fired a broadside at the member for Page, Janelle Saffin, and Imdependent MP for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, when it came to the current funding for the strip of road often referred to colloquially as the 'black ribbon of death'.
"The member for Page and the member for Lyne, who have been conspicuous with their silence about the absence of any mention of the highway in the 2013-14 budget papers, must give North Coast residents a guarantee that funding for the highway will not be cut or deferred," he said.
"They should explain how each project, which the minister claims are set to commence, will be funded in the next financial year."
Mr Hartsuyker said the Coalition would restore the 80/20 fund model.
"We have announced and are committed to $5.6 billion. When combined with the New South Wales government's commitment of $1.5 billion that will deliver the funding necessary to complete the duplication of the road.
"That is $4 billion more than could possibly be delivered under the current funding arrangements," Mr Hartsuyker told Federal Parliament," he said.
Mr Hartsuyker has written to the Minister requesting details of all Federal funds which will be spent on existing and future Pacific Highway projects over the forward estimates.
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