Tony Abbott drove a truck along the highway and dropped in to Coffs Harbour to announce a Pacific Highway Funding scheme. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Tony Abbott drove a truck along the highway and dropped in to Coffs Harbour to announce a Pacific Highway Funding scheme. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate Rob Wright

Driver Abbott pulls over to pump up Coalition highway plans

LOCALS having a quiet lunchtime beer at Woodburn's Rod n Reel were surprised to see the familiar swagger of the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott as he walked up to the bar and asked for a coke yesterday.

Having driven more than 200km along the Pacific Highway in a 19m semi-trailer, starting at Rocklea Markets in Brisbane, Mr Abbott chose to take a rest stop in Woodburn and talk about the Coalition's plans for funding this major stretch of road before heading off to his final destination of Terrigal on the Central Coast today.

"The government has promised $3.5 billion but that's dependent on the NSW Government putting in $3.5 billion," he said. "NSW hasn't got the money so (the Coalition) are going to put in an extra $2 billion that means the deadlock will be broken and additional construction will get underway."

Mr Abbott said a future Coalition Government would restore the 80:20 funding split by providing $5.6 billion to complete the duplication of the Pacific Hwy.

"The Gillard Government promised $2 billion for the Epping to Parramatta rail project," he said. "This is not a NSW Government priority so we'll take the money from that particular project and redirect it towards the Pacific Hwy." Mr Abbott said as soon as there was a change of government, the new Pacific Highway projects could get going as early as 2014.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has labelled the trip as a stunt. "My challenge to him is to be up front and honest with the communities who live along the Pacific Highway because to date his 'promises' have been as empty as the truck that he's driving," he said in a media release.

He said the road trip would give Mr Abbott "plenty of time to reflect on the Federal Coalition's failure to fix the highway the last time they were in government" and see the current "massive capital works program" on now.



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