There’s no getting around the fact that the Barton Highway is a political issue.
If it’s going to be upgraded, then it requires federal government funding, and possibly some from the state government as well, to make it happen.
This would be a major infrastructure project. The price tag of $500 million has been queried, but regardless of whether the final cost is $300 million, $500 million or more, the dollars have to be signed off by politicians – whether under this current government or the next.
Therefore, politics comes into play. I’m not naïve about that but I do have zero tolerance for political point scoring in the Tribune over this.
The reason the Barton is a serious issue for many in the Yass Valley is the very personal cost it extracts. Every time there is a major accident, we are all put on edge, wondering if it is someone we know caught up in the wreckage.
And we all have our own stories of near misses. I know I do.
I still shudder to remember the day that I was travelling between Yass and Murrumbateman when a white ute pulled out from a side road, slowly and deliberately, into my path. With precious little distance between us, I was left with nowhere to go but into the oncoming lane to avoid him. Thankfully, I got around and we were all okay. Otherwise there would be someone else writing this editorial, I have no doubt.
We all have these stories, so the idea that this issue might devolve into some sort of political football match is abhorrent. Particularly if it becomes a debate over which government did or didn’t do what in the past. Such raking up of the past does nothing to further the cause right here and now.
We also need to have a unified voice if our call for an upgrade is going to have its strongest impact.
Hume candidates James Harker-Mortlock and Angus Taylor have both shown that they are fighting for funding for the Barton in their own ways. Both will receive fair coverage in the Trib for their efforts – as will any other candidate or politician who rallies to the cause.
So sign every petition, email every MP and Senator who might help, use social media to spread the word, but let’s – as far as possible – keep political point scoring out of it.