Kyogle mayor sets sights on PM
By Alex Easton
JOHN HOWARD will want to keep an eye out for Ernie Bennett.
The Kyogle mayor and Pacific Highway Taskforce chairman will be one of dozens of people hoping to catch the Prime Minister's ear when he visits Grafton today.
He's determined to get the PM to put more money into the highway and he's not going to be subtle about it.
Cr Bennett will be pushing what remains one of this region's most critical issues as the Northern Rivers approaches its seventh Federal election since former NSW Coroner Kevin Waller recommended the Pacific Highway be upgraded to dual carriageway.
About 500km, including significant strips on the Northern Rivers reaching south from Ewingsdale, remains to be done, with the State Government estimating the work will cost about $8 billion in today's dollars.
Over the past decade, NSW and the Commonwealth between them have put in a little over $2 billion, with another $1.3 billion still to come.
Most of the early money has come from the State, with the $1.3 billion being split 50/50.
Cr Bennett says he will argue it is time the Commonwealth accepted a greater responsibility for Australia's busiest and most dangerous highway by paying for three-quarters of the work to get it built faster.