Liberals accused of misinformation as Labor tries to score political points

The old Nowra bridge crossing the Shoalhaven River.
The old Nowra bridge crossing the Shoalhaven River.

SOUTH Coast MP Shelley Hancock has dismissed claims from federal Labor that state Liberals have been  misleading the community about their efforts to secure funding for a new bridge over the Shoalhaven River as laughable.

Mrs Hancock stated in 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.

In Senate Budget Estimates in Monday Labor Senator Glenn Sterle asked if Infrastructure Australia had received “a business case from the NSW Government, seeking to evaluate the project for this new bridge over the Shoalhaven River at Nowra, as an alternative to the old iron one that gets clogged up regularly”.

Infrastructure Australia senior officer Jeremy Parkinson, said the organisation had not received a business case for the proposal as yet.

“Of course they haven’t,” Mrs Hancock said. “A business case hasn’t been finished yet.”

Mrs Hancock said the NSW Government had in fact made an application to the Commonwealth Government, through the Infrastructure Australia Priority List, on two separate occasions in 2015 and 2016 and will for a third time later this year.

“Labor’s latest claims regarding funding for the Nowra Bridge are simply laughable and goes to show they are willing to go to any measure including lying to score cheap political points,” Mrs Hancock said.

“Through this process the NSW Government secured $10 million to complete the business case which is due to be finalised later this year.

“Interestingly that was the question raised today in Budget Estimates – not whether funding had been sought. Labor needs to check the facts.

“As Mr Albanese and Ms Phillips are well aware, inclusion on the Infrastructure Australia Priority List is the crucial first step to receiving Commonwealth funding and to imply otherwise is simply misleading.”

She said she had one simple message for Labor: “Get back in your box!”

A press release by the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese and Labor candidate for Gilmore Fiona Phillips called on Ms Hancock to be “more honest with her constituents”.

“Two weeks ago Mrs Hancock told the South Coast Register she was pressing the Commonwealth for a funding contribution for the bridge after federal Labor committed $50 million to the project,” the statement said.

“Mrs Hancock told the newspaper the NSW Government had made ‘a funding request’ to Infrastructure Australia to ensure the project could proceed as soon as possible.

“However, according to Mr Parkinson, this is false,” the statement said.

“The Liberals have failed to commit a single dollar to the construction of the Nowra bridge, highlighting the lack of clout of Federal Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis as well as the inaction of Ms Hancock.

“By contrast, Labor has put $50 million on the table.

“Labor understands that infrastructure investment is critical when it comes to improving road safety and boosting productivity, particularly in regional Australia.”

Mrs Hancock countered saying Mr Albanese and Mrs Phillips were “barking up the wrong tree”.

“Mr Albanese and Mrs Phillips don’t seem to understand the process itself,” she said.

“Which is a surprise when you consider Mr Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure.

“We should all be working together not criticising to continue the good work we are doing in upgrading the Princes Highway.”