Upper Hunter Nationals MP Dave Layzell is calling on federal minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, to end the delays and fund construction of the Muswellbrook Bypass.
Mr Layzell said Transport for NSW officials have told Budget Estimates the New England Highway project is on hold awaiting the outcome of the federal government’s infrastructure review.
“Even though early works have commenced, the state government will not proceed with the design and construction tender for the bypass until the 90-day review, which was originally due to report in July, is finalised,” Mr Layzell said.
“The future of the Coal Road connection between the New England Highway and the Muswellbrook CBD is also in the balance pending release of the federal government report.”
Minister King is this week suggesting there could be cuts to the infrastructure pipeline due to factors including the number of commitments made prior to the 2016 and 2019 federal elections and projects not having enough funding.
“I would say to Minister King that Muswellbrook’s wait must end now or the Albanese Labor government’s plans for renewable energy projects will suffer because Over Size Over Mass cargoes like wind turbines will not be able to be transported through the town due to the limitations of the current road network,” Mr Layzell said.
“You don’t have to look further than former member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon, to justify getting a wriggle on. Minister, he told the federal parliament on 20 June 2005 that Muswellbrook Bypass has been on the drawing board and much discussed since prior to the 1996 election.
“Mr Fitzgibbon’s Hansard indicated there were financial commitments from the Commonwealth prior to the 1996 election for the bypass – but here we are in 2023 and Muswellbrook is still waiting.
“Enough is enough, Minister King.”
There was better news at Budget Estimates for the Singleton Bypass with Transport advising the federal government has confirmed its funding for that project allowing the NSW Government to proceed to tender and award the construction contract.
Six compulsory property acquisitions required to build the bypass were taken to the Land and Environment Court with three matters still awaiting resolution.