Premier still refuses to tour Hwy
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally refuses to reconsider touring the North Coast horror stretch of the Pacific Highway next month despite signing on to a state-wide campaign to reduce NSW’s road toll.
Last month the Premier snubbed an invitation by four North Coast mayors to her and the Leader of the NSW Opposition Barry O’Farrell to tour the deadly section of highway between Coffs Harbour and Ballina.
Three more people have died on that stretch of the highway since then.
The notorious 212km section is one of the busiest roads in the country and remains almost 90 per cent undivided despite repeated promises by successive governments to upgrade it.
A spokeswoman for the Premier yesterday reiterated Ms Keneally’s intention to send her Minister for State and Regional Development, Ian Macdonald.
“The Premier has every confidence that as the Minister for State and Regional Development, and the Duty MLC for Coffs Harbour, Mr Macdonald, is the most appropriate NSW Government representative on this issue,” the spokeswoman told The Northern Star.
“She looks forward to discussing this important issue with the Minister.”
Ms Keneally also avoided the question in Parliament earlier this week when the Clarence MP, Steve Cansdell, again asked her why she refused to join the tour.
“She never answered the question, which shows such disregard for the seriousness of this issue,” he said.
“The Speaker of the House gave her a get-out-of-jail card and she ran with it.
“We need the Premier to see this road first-hand. She needs to stop at the crosses lining the route and visit the Cowper bus crash memorial.
“Only then will the statistics become real. Real people with real stories.”
Ms Keneally again trotted out the figure of $3.6 billion allocated to the highway upgrade, though failed to disclose that the NSW Government had only contributed $500 million.
The NRMA has estimated that the work will cost closer to $7 billion.
Ballina MP Don Page said he has arranged to meet the Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell at Ballina airport on April 8 with Ballina mayor Phill Silver.
They will meet with Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan, Clarence Valley mayor Richie Williamson, and Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades for the tour.