“Short changing our community”: Mike Kelly on the latest Barton Highway announcement

Mike Kelly says the latest Barton Highway announcement by the NSW and Federal governments fall short.
Mike Kelly says the latest Barton Highway announcement by the NSW and Federal governments fall short.

The latest announcement about Barton Highway safety works and duplication by members of the Liberal/National Government on December 4 has been called a “media stunt” by Mike Kelly, the Federal Member for Eden-Monaro.

Mr Kelly said the announcement “outlines how they are short changing our community by funding some overtaking lanes and calling it a duplication”.

“Disappointingly, it also appears that the Liberal/National Government will no longer be undertaking the $1.75 million Barton Highway business case.”

He said that the business case was promised in the previous Federal election and would have included recommended staging and costings for the highway duplication.

“In other words, a plan for full duplication,” Mr Kelly said.

“The NSW Liberal/National Government are recklessly throwing $2.6 billion away on rebuilding two stadiums in Sydney before their time, with no supporting business case while neglecting critical regional infrastructure.

“The duplication of the Barton Highway is essential to improve safety on one of the most dangerous roads in NSW as well as unlocking the economic potential of Southern NSW and the ACT,” he said.

The only realistic way the Barton Highway will ever be duplicated, he said, was by future state and federal Labor governments.

“I have an ongoing commitment to start the duplication of the Barton Highway, with work to begin on one of the most dangerous areas of the road – what is known as Section 4 – from the ACT border and systematically working north towards Yass,” Mr Kelly said.

Duplication set to begin in 2019

The $75 million duplication of the Barton Highway announced on December 4 will start in about 2019.

Duplication will start at the ACT Border, with Roads and Maritime Services aiming to duplicate as “far as they can” towards Murrumbateman with the initial $75 million.

Sophie Wade, convenor of the Duplicate the Barton Highway Community Action Group, said thanks go to all levels of government.

“The money is absolutely critical but it is the will to proceed and to actually complete the work [that] is just as important and the community will be thrilled by this result,” Mrs Wade said.

Of the $75 million, $25 million will be directed towards immediate safety improvements promised by NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey at the December 4 announcement.

“It is a really important feeder road into Canberra. People in the community don’t care about state and federal boundaries, they just want us to do our job,” Ms Pavey said.

“The traffic numbers suggest that it needs to happen,” she said.

Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey said it was a fantastic announcement for the region.

“I cannot thank both the Federal and State Governments enough for sitting down with Council and our community to discuss how we could achieve the best result for the $100 million promised,” Cr Abbey said.

“Our community have not been quiet in this process and Sophie Wade and her team are to be thanked for the input they have had in shaping today’s announcement,” she said.