House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Statements by Members

Calare Electorate: Infrastructure

1:36 pm

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

For over 170 years the people of central-western New South Wales have been fighting for a crossing over the Macquarie River between Mudgee and Orange at Dixons Long Point. For residents of our area it has become known as the Holy Grail of unfinished road projects. A crossing at Dixons Long Point would dramatically cut travel time between Orange and Mudgee, improve connectivity between the Central West and Hunter Valley regions and drive economic growth and tourism. With an impressive cost-benefit ratio, this project makes perfect sense, and I have been fighting for it since the day I was elected to this place. It even featured in my inaugural speech seven years ago. I have personally worked with local Indigenous communities to appropriately address cultural heritage concerns, geotech work had been carried out and we had $27.8 million sitting in the kitty. Unfortunately, the government has now roadblocked it. Sadly, all the government seems to do is try to point-score on the opposition about projects not being sufficiently funded. This is just a cop-out. There isn't a project in the country that didn't experience a rise in costs during the pandemic and the subsequent inflation explosion. That shouldn't be an excuse for snatching away infrastructure money that's already in the bank and dudding the people west of the sandstone curtain. I ask again: what happened to the money? Where is the $27.8 million now, and why can't any of it be used to carry out upgrades to the existing road and crossing? We need answers, not political games.