Budget bungle means NSW should pay more for highway: Saffin

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin has called on the NSW government to give up its demands the Commonwealth pay for 80% of the Pacific Highway upgrade, after the NSW Auditor General revealed a $1 billion accounting error meant the state's budget was actually in surplus.

Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat released a report yesterday showing NSW currently had a $680 million surplus, despite forecasts from Treasurer Mike Baird the state faced a $337 million deficit.

Mr Acherstraat was reported yesterday delivering a stinging rebuke for the $1 billion bungle.

"The forecasts need to be tightened up, the mistakes need to tightened up," he was quoted saying by the ABC.

The NSW Government is a billion-dollar business, it's not a school tuck shop.


The revelations follow months of bickering between the State and Federal governments over whether the upgrade should be evenly split (the Commonwealth's preferred position) or divided up in an 80/20 split that would have NSW paying only a fifth of the cost.

Ms Saffin called on Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis to lobby the State Government to increase its commitment to the highway.

"He is quick to jump up and have a go at me, but his energies would be better directed at making sure the O'Farrell Government honours its pre-election commitment to the highway upgrade," Ms Saffin said.

"The O'Farrell Government is far from broke, but the reality is Premier O'Farrell has made a conscious decision to priorities projects in Sydney ahead the Pacific Highway.

"The Federal Labor Government is already investing a record $4.1 billion into the Pacific Highway and has put an additional $3.56 billion on the table. The O'Farrell Government must match that commitment on a dollar for dollar basis.

"Mr Gulaptis needs to make sure the O'Farrell Government does the right thing and put the money it found at the back of the couch directly towards the duplication of Pacific Highway.

"If the O'Farrell Government is serious about its commitment to complete the duplication by 2016, it needs to do the right thing and stump up its contribution to the Pacific Highway," Ms Saffin said.

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner was quoted by the ABC saying even with the budget now in the black, the NSW Government was still facing tough economic times, saying "overall, our revenues have collapsed significantly".

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