House debates

Wednesday, 3 February 2021


Gilmore Electorate: Roads

7:30 pm

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In regional communities in my electorate on the New South Wales South Coast our roads are very important to us. They are certainly very important to me. Since being elected as the member for Gilmore I have worked hard to advocate on behalf of the local community for improvements to our roads. I have taken every opportunity to bang the drum on all sorts of road projects. Even before that I was standing with the community for years on projects like the new Nowra bridge, the Jervis Bay Road intersection, the Milton-Ulladulla bypass and the Currarong Road. I have been delighted to see some success in these campaigns.

Our Fix it Now campaign pushed for the government to bring forward its promised funding for the Princes Highway. This groundswell started in the community. Thanks to the community and local groups, like the Milton-Ulladulla bypass joint committee, we've finally seen $400 million in federal funding brought forward to build the Milton-Ulladulla bypass. That project is now moving ahead. I know it will make substantial improvements to the everyday lives of the communities in Ulladulla and its surrounds.

Another project the community and I have worked hard on is securing a flyover for the Jervis Bay Road intersection. It's a notorious intersection, so it is critical we get it right. It was clear that the community would not accept a roundabout. It just wouldn't have worked. Thanks to the work of the community and local group Vincentia Matters, the New South Wales government announced the flyover in November last year. What fantastic success.

Another notorious road, Currarong Road, has also seen the fruits of this community labour. We have fought together for years to fix this road that has seen far too many crashes and far too many fatalities. In October $3.6 million in joint Commonwealth and New South Wales government stimulus funding was committed to finally fixing this road. Well done, Currarong Community Association and all the local people who fought hard for this.

In June last year I could not have been more delighted to attend the turning of the first sod on the new Nowra bridge. It was made possible with $155 million in Commonwealth funding. My family was there for the opening of the old Nowra Bridge and the second bridge that followed. It was a special occasion for me to see the work on the much-needed new bridge get underway. Once again this was years in the making. It is a project that I championed for a very long time and now it is becoming a reality.

I have been immensely proud of the role I have played in getting these projects off the ground no matter how long it took. My point is that these commitments and these road improvements don't happen overnight. Ever since I was elected I have stood in this place countless times to advocate for these projects and to bring forward federal funding. I have yelled from the rooftops, 'Fix it faster.' But it feels like on the South Coast that story never ends. I am really excited to see the new Batemans Bay bridge nearing completion. It is such a critical project and hugely important for the community.

We still need to work on the duplication of the highway, and there are many upgrades needed on the Princes Highway south of Jervis Bay. I won't stop fighting for these improvements, but today I want to get the conversation started on the next major project—the Nowra bypass. I said back in June at the Nowra bridge sod turning that now is the time to start the conversation on the bypass. The bridge is fantastic for local traffic but it isn't enough. While the bridgeworks are going on, traffic in Nowra is pure chaos. It takes at least 20 minutes longer in peak hour to get across the bridge. During the school holidays or on long weekends traffic can be backed up for hours. Let's hope there are no accidents.

I don't expect that the funding for the Nowra bypass will be announced tomorrow, but I am putting governments at all levels on notice that I'm on Team Nowra Bypass. I have proven that, when it comes to advocating for our local infrastructure, from government or opposition, I won't go away until I secure that commitment. I look forward to working closely with the Nowra community on this vital project. I know that together we can achieve anything. I am confident that the Nowra bypass will be no different.