Balllina MP welcomes highway funding U-turn
By MARY MANN
LOCALS pushing for the upgrading of the Pacific Highway yesterday breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Claims by a Brisbane metropolitan newspaper that the Federal%Government had ranked work on Queensland’s Ipswich Motorway as being more important than up-%grading the Pacific Highway were slammed by the Federal Roads%Minister Anthony Albanese.
Anger had been building in the wake of comments he made, quoted recently in a Brisbane newspaper that “there is no more important road project than the Ipswich%Motorway on our priority list. No more important anywhere.”
The Northern Star yesterday contacted Mr Albanese’s office, which denied ‘anywhere’ referred to the whole country. A spokesperson said he meant anywhere in Queensland.
He was not prepared to rank either project as being of greater importance, but said $2.5 billion would be allocated to the Pacific Highway from July 2009.
Ballina MP Don Page, who had been outraged over the initial comments, said he was relieved.
“The standard of highways in South-East Queensland generally is far higher than the Pacific Highway,” he said.
“It would be very disappointing for the people of the North Coast if the Government placed the Ipswich Motorway as a higher priority. The Pacific Highway is the most important road in the eastern corridor.”
Chairman of the Ballina Bypass Action Group, Alan Brown, said it was ‘absolutely vital we remain on top of the Pacific Highway upgrades and the Ballina bypass’.
“We are so close,” he said.
Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, said the funding showed the Government was ‘getting on with the job’.