MPs ask why the South Coast is treated like a second class citizen?

HARD WORD: Gareth Ward and Shelley Hancock have called on Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis (centre) for a "fairer" contribution to highway funding.
HARD WORD: Gareth Ward and Shelley Hancock have called on Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis (centre) for a "fairer" contribution to highway funding.

KIAMA and South Coast MPs Gareth Ward and Shelley Hancock are turning up the heat on the federal government and in particular Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis for a fairer share of funding for the Princes Highway.

The state members have launched a petition calling on the federal government to commit to an 80-20 split for all Princes Highway funding, as has happened in other regions.

“Why are we the second-class citizens on the South Coast?” Mr Ward said.

“Other regions are getting 80-20 split between federal and state governments for highway works. Why aren’t we?

“It isn’t fair that some parts of the state and nation are treated different to us.”

The federal government's investment in the Princes Highway to date has been disappointing.

South Coast MP Shelley Hancock

The petition calls on the federal government to give the people of the Illawarra and South Coast an 80-20 split on Princes Highway upgrades.

“And the Shoalhaven River bridge would be a great place to start,” Mr Ward said.

He conceded Mrs Sudmalis had previously made such a pledge but called on the government to make such a commitment for all Princes Highway upgrades.

“Shelley Hancock and I have worked hard to see record investment in the Princes Highway upgrades at Gerringong, Foxground, Berry, South Nowra and further south, work that had been talked about for 60 years,” Mr Ward said.

“We are delivering. But it’s not fair other regions are getting federal funding for such works.

“I think the federal government needs to start pulling its weight when it comes to highway funding.”

Mrs Hancock and Mr Ward made clear that sentiment in state parliament this week.

“We want it for all future projects, not just the Shoalhaven River bridge as has been promised,” Mr Ward said.

“We certainly realise the importance of these road upgrades to our community and people can see we are serious because we are delivering.”

The federal government needs to start pulling its weight when it comes to highway funding.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward

Mrs Hancock unloaded in the Legislative Assembly via a private member’s bill, saying the federal government's investment in the Princes Highway to date had “been disappointing”.

“Especially when we compare their commitment to the Pacific Highway,” she said.

“In May this year the federal member for Gilmore committed to an 80-20 funding split for the Nowra bridge project. This of course is welcome but I call on the federal member for Gilmore to secure from the federal government an 80-20 funding arrangement that will ensure we can begin construction of the new bridge and upgrade nearby intersections.”

Mrs Hancock told parliament the NSW government had taken all appropriate courses of action to secure federal funding including various studies which seemed to have been sticking points previously.

“We have made representations to the Prime Minister and appropriate ministers,” Mrs Hancock said.

“Additionally the NSW government has submitted a funding request to Infrastructure Australia to ensure this project can be got on with as soon as practicable.”

The petition will be available on Mr Ward’s website later this afternoon.