Gladys Berejiklian pushes for more federal Princes Highway funding

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has refuted claims the state government has not done everything it can to get federal funding for the Princes Highway.

Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis told Fairfax for the Princes Highway to be considered as a road of importance and therefore be eligible for more significant federal funding the state government must apply to Infrastructure Australia and provide a business case.

It’s something Mrs Sudmalis claims the state government has not done.

“That’s not the case,” Mrs Berejiklian said.

“Don’t worry about the paperwork that’s all in tray. We have done the paperwork.

“The hard work has been done.

“We are a government that is leading the nation when it comes to infrastructure.”

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Mrs Berejiklian spent three days in the Shoalhaven last week, much of it spent travelling on the Princes Highway, particularly in the southern Shoalhaven.

An area where the South Coast Register and other Fairfax newspapers have started the FIX IT NOW campaign, calling for much-needed upgrades of the highway south of the Jervis Bay Road turn-off.

“Certainly we would welcome funding from the federal government,” Mrs  Berejiklian said.

“It’s on the record and Gareth and Shelley [Kiama MP Gareth Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock] say it every day that the feds need to get involved.

“I hate to say this but we [the NSW Liberal Government] are leaving the other states and other governments for dead when it comes for infrastructure.

“We are spending more in four years than the federal government is spending in a decade.

“We are leading the nation and if it wasn’t for us you wouldn’t see the upgrades you are seeing with the Princes Highway - they wouldn’t have happened.”

The Premier, Mr Ward and Mrs Hancock also refuted claims the Labor government had done the planning for the Berry Bypass.

“When our Labor opponents were in government they refused and were unable to make these upgrades - we are getting on with the job,” Mrs  Berejiklian said.

“Not for any other reason apart from the fact we want to see safety improved and reduced travel times and increased tourism to the area and you can’t do that unless you have that infrastructure.

“As a state government we are doing everything we can - to move as quickly as possible - whether it is the Berry Bypass, whether it’s the Burrill Lake bridge these are improvements which would not have happened had we not been in government.

“And there is much more to come.”

She said the state already had a number of projects under way but would, of course, welcome federal funding.

“We would like to see when the Pacific Highway is finished in 2020 to see that 80/20 funding obviously convert to the Princes Highway and we will fight for that,” she said.

“We’re a government that does what we need to do, I want to make that very clear. We work as hard as we can but obviously we could get things done more quickly if we had that 80/20 share. We would be able to do more even more quickly.

“One thing to note, while we are upgrading the Princes Highway we still need to make it function.

“So there is only certain stretches you can do at a particular time.

“We don’t want to close up shop and have the whole highway dysfunctional.

“So we have to be very careful as to which stretch we do when.

“As we finish one section we are announcing new sections and that will continue.”