Labor says New England byelection triggered action on Bolivia Hill and Scone Bypass

COSTLY INACTION: David Ewings and Anthony Albanese at the Trucker Drivers Memorial in Tamworth. Photo: Jamieson Murphy
COSTLY INACTION: David Ewings and Anthony Albanese at the Trucker Drivers Memorial in Tamworth. Photo: Jamieson Murphy

LABOR has thrown down the gauntlet to the Nationals, accusing it of costly road safety inaction, as the party continues to campaign hard for the upcoming byelection.

Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was “shocked” it took a byelection for the government to call for tenders on the Bolivia Hill realignment and the Scone bypass, given his government had committed funding to the projects when it was in power in 2013.

Mr Albanese said he’d driven along Bolivia Hill and called it a “dangerous black spot”.

“It has more memorials to tragedy than any spot I’ve seen in Australia, and I say that as someone who was the Transport Minister for six years,” Mr Albanese said.

“It’s not good enough to wait until a byelection is around the corner to see some action.”

David Ewings reiterated his message that the Nationals were “taking the region for granted”.

“What we want is action in the region – the Nationals are not delivering on these big infrastructure projects, particularly in road transport,” Mr Ewings said.

“When you look at the black spot program, you’re talking about $70m budgeted, with a spend of about $30m. For roads, you’re seeing budgeting of about $60m and only $14m spent.

“I fully intend to do a better job of delivering for the region if I’m elected.”

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A spokesperson for Mr Joyce said Labor was desperately trying to invent issues.

“In the Sydney media, when they think no one locally is watching, Labor complains how much funding Barnaby has been able to secure for the New England,” he said.

“Then in the local media, Shorten’s Labor Party change their tune and try to say the funding is all because of them. Everyday Labor complains about funding for the New England because they would rather it was spent in Canberra and Sydney.

“Far from the funding being provided because of any byelection, the electorate has been kept up to date on how the Nationals are securing funding for local roads long before a byelection.”