The Albanese Government has proven Labor has hit the brakes on regional communities after delaying funding for the Great Western Highway in the 2022-23 Budget.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said news of the two-year delay was a massive blow to the thousands of people who travel the Great Western Highway every day.
“Yesterday we were on track to start major works in six months. Now Labor has punted our start date off into the long grass,” Mr Toole said.
“This is a transformative project that we’ve worked incredibly hard to make a reality because we know it will be life changing for the people that use the road every day.
“The Federal Government claim to be committed to this upgrade but actions speak louder than words. By putting funding on hold, they’ve effectively put this project into ‘go slow mode’, condemning those travelling through the mountains to years more of sitting in traffic.”
Nationals Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the delay basically puts the Great Western Highway upgrade from Katoomba to Lithgow in never-never land.
“The delay is the oldest accounting trick in the book – it keeps the project alive on paper but allows Labor to spend the money elsewhere. Why not ‘fess up to the people of regional NSW and say you’re cutting it?,” Mr Farraway said.
“Last month we started early work for the Coxs River Road section and just this week we shortlisted tenderers for the major works that were scheduled to begin early next year.
“With the flick of a pen, contracts have been torn up, 3,900 jobs have effectively been put on hold and we’re none the wiser if Labor ever plan to back us in building this highway.
“Treasurer Jim Chalmers said higher commodity prices are what saved this budget yet he is axing a project that would strengthen our supply chain and make the movement of commodities, supplies and products easier.
“The delay is incredibly disappointing for NSW, for the families who use this road every day and the freight operators who have wanted this road made safer for so long only to see it gone.
“This Budget proves that only a NSW Liberal and Nationals Government can secure a brighter future for NSW families by building what matters to make daily life easier.”