The Labor Party has promised a federal contribution towards a new Shoalhaven River bridge.
Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese made the commitment during a visit to Nowra on Wednesday with Labor Gilmore candidate Fiona Phillips.
But how much and a time frame for the project were not mentioned.
Mr Albanese said a Shorten Labor Government would invest $2.5 million to upgrade the Moruya Regional Airport and $500,000 to undertake planning for the construction of the proposed Milton-Ulladulla bypass on the Princes Highway.
“We don’t know how much it [a new bridge] would be, as the state government hasn’t done proper planning. We will ensure we are prepared to participate in finding a solution,” he said.
“Planning money has been put aside and hasn’t even been spent.
“This is becoming a more urgent issue. I have been coming to Nowra for the last three decades and have seen it grow and I’ve seen the traffic grow.
“We need to get the planning done and negotiate what the cost is.
“We know the benefit, we also know there is a cost of inaction. The longer the delay the more expensive it will be.”
On the missing highway link between Berry and Bomaderry he said if in government, Labor would receive submissions from state governments and would act on them.
“We doubled the road budget when we were in office,” he said.
“You have a State Coalition Government and a Federal Coalition Government and a mayor who’s also from the Coalition who used to be the federal member what more do you need? How many more ducks do you need in a row to need on this river to build a bridge? “The ducks are all in a row, all three of them and nothing has happened.”Shadow minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese
He said Labor only made promises on proper analysis and costing and would do that again if elected on July 2.
He praised candidate Fiona Phillips, saying the Liberal Party had taken Gilmore for granted.
“Not even all the the Liberal Party support the Liberal member for the region because they know they have taken it for granted,” he said.
“They are complacent and haven’t taken action and haven’t been prepared to speak up and make strong representations.
“You have a State Coalition Government and a Federal Coalition Government and a mayor who’s also from the Coalition who used to be the federal member what more do you need?
“How many more ducks do you need in a row on this river to build a bridge? “The ducks are all in a row, all three of them and nothing has happened.”
He said if Labor was in government and he was the minister the project would progress.
“We would be getting it done. Not buck passing,” he said.
“We are committed to make a federal contribution to the bridge.
“We want to see the state government get its act together, get costings done and make submissions and we would pressure them into doing that.
“Not all stand there and hold hands and nothing happen. We would make sure something happens here.”
Albanese promised little – Sudmalis
Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis said Labor was again a big disappointment for the people of Gilmore, promising little during Mr Albanese’s visit.
“He pretty much said nothing,” she said.
“It was such a token effort, with Labor promising only to talk to the state government about the bridge.”
She said if Mr Albanese had bothered talking to state authorities before turning up to grandstand, he would have found all the costing and planning for the bridge, had actually been completed.
“Things he said had not been done,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
“But we should not be surprised. For years State Labor governments said they were talking and planning for the new Nowra bridge but achieved nothing.
“I secured $10 million to carry out all the necessary site, planning and geotechnical studies not only for a new bridge, but how it is going to fit into the existing road network.”
She said it was nice to see Mr Albanese endorse the Coalition’s commitment to extending the Moruya Airport made a few weeks ago.
“The only new funding promise was a non-announcement of $500,000 for planning a by-pass of Milton and Ulladulla, but the cost of this planning process is likely to be 10 times the amount, so what was the point of him being here?”
The region is dudded under Labor – Ward
Kiama MP Gareth Ward was ropeable.
“We know when Labor is in government in this region because the region gets dudded. If I was Anthony Albanese and I was coming to Gilmore to win a few votes the last thing I would want to talk about is roads,” he said.
“People in this electorate are not stupid. They remember the last time Labor was in government, we didn’t see one red cent put towards the Princes Highway and even worse Fiona Phillips, as the state Labor candidate, campaigned against our means of funding the Albion Park Rail bypass.
“The only duck I’ve seen is a shot duck and that is the people of this area when Labor are in government”.Kiama MP Gareth Ward
“If elected Fiona Phillips will only be a mouthpiece for the Labor Party. She won’t be a champion of this community.”
As for Mr Albanese’s “ducks in a row” line, Mr Ward said the “the only duck I’ve seen is a shot duck and that is the people of this area when Labor are in government”.
“He [Albanese] didn’t offer anything. It was an exercise in spin,” Mr Ward said.
“He gave absolutely no commitment on the amount or the timing. We have already received $10 million of federal money for planning studies and what he [Albanese] said about the state and federal governments not get on with the planning work for the Shoalhaven River Bridge is a lie. It is also an insult to the community that has had input into the project.”
He said planning for the third crossing was being developed and confirmed the new structure would be going to the west of the current bridges.
“I haven’t seen any planning to suggest the bridge will be going anywhere other than the western side,” he said.
“It was ironic that the very location where Mr Albanese and Ms Phillips were standing was where the Coalition government announced it is planning to build the new bridge.
“We are doing concept plans and designs and we have to do that and costings before we can ask for capital funds.
“If you want an example of what Labor will do in the future – look at what it has failed to do in the past. I wouldn’t be confident of anything happening.”
Mr Ward disputed Mr Albanese’s claim the state didn’t approach the federal government for funding for the bridge, saying it was busy trying to get funding for the Princes Highway upgrade, which was rejected.
“Albanese said when the Labor Government was last in power it doubled the infrastructure spending in NSW. Doubling nothing is nothing and that’s what this region got last time Labor was in power.”
Mr Ward did concede the Federal Coalition Government hadn’t contributed any money towards the massive current upgrades of the Prince Highway.
“Of course we would welcome any federal funding, especially for the highway, I would always welcome that,” he said.
“Albanese’s commitment is another Labor lie. I checked with the Parliamentary Budget Office in Canberra and it is not listed as one of its election commitments. Another Labor lie exposed.”