Doorstop - Kincumber

GORDON REID: Well, good morning, everyone, and thank you so much for coming out today to Kincumber on this rainy day. I want to thank the Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, Minister Farraway from the New South Wales government, and also Assistant Minister Emma McBride, the Federal member for Dobell, for coming along today for this important announcement.

We know that road congestion and road safety is an enormous issue here on the Central Coast, in Robertson, in Dobell, right across the region. We find that there are multiple pinch points where ambulances are finding it difficult to get through traffic, people are going to and from work are being caught up in traffic, people who are picking up their children from school are finding it difficult because of this traffic and this congestion, particularly here in Kincumber at Avoca Drive.

So with that, I’d like to hand over now to Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, for this important Federal announcement. Thank you.

CATHERINE KING: Thanks, Gordon, and it’s terrific to be joined here both by Gordon and by Emma but particularly also Sam Farraway, Minister for Regional Roads here in New South Wales. We’ve been working very closely together on these two projects that we’re about to announce today to really make sure for the Central Coast in particular our investments are actually ready and are out and being invested in and being readied for delivery.

The first announcement I want to make today that Gordon has alluded to is that we are now – the federal Labor Albanese government – is increasing its investment at Avoca Drive in Kincumber. During the election campaign with Gordon’s advocacy we committed $30 million to really get the ball rolling on that extra duplication for Avoca Drive. Today we’re announcing that we’re committing a further $70 million. We’ve been working very closely again with Sam and his colleagues at Transport for NSW to really get an understanding of how we can get this project out the door. We didn’t want to just have election commitments and election announcements and then sit on them for years, as often we have seen in the past. We actually want to deliver this project so that additional $70 million will really get this project rolling and get this project moving. So, I do want to thank Sam Farraway for the work that he has done on that.

Today I’m also announcing that we, the Federal government, will be releasing $80 million for the Pacific Highway duplication through Wyong. Again, we know this has been an incredibly important project. It’s been on the books for a while. It’s part of our $334 million commitment to really improving traffic, improving the flow of traffic through Wyong, and improving the CBD development there. Making that $80 million of Commonwealth funding available will assist the New South Wales Government to really again fast track planning, work out where all of those services are that need to be moved and really start the work that needs to be done and the detailed design work to actually make that project a reality.

It's been our experience in the six or seven months that we’ve been in office that there are lots of projects on the books, but actually working in partnership, working very closely with the New South Wales Government, making sure we’ve got a good understanding of the costs going forward that need [indistinct] in collaboration to actually deliver these projects. And we’re very focused, particularly with Avoca Drive and the Pacific Highway, to stop talking about them, stop having media conferences about them and actually just get on with the job of delivering. That’s really what we’re about today.

And I’ll ask Minister Farraway to say a few words.

SAM FARRAWAY: Well, it’s fantastic to be back on the Central Coast and to be joined by Catherine King, the minister – the Federal Minister for Infrastructure. And as she has just said, we’ve been partnering the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals state government with the Commonwealth delivering infrastructure that matters to the people of the Central Coast, the people of the Upper Hunter and Hunter Valley earlier today with the Singleton Bypass. It is so important that we are building the infrastructure for tomorrow, not just today.

And we’re going to see that with the $420 million commitment from both the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals state government partnering with the Commonwealth here on the duplication between Johnson Road and Cutler Drive here, duplicating this very important part of what is one of the busiest highways in New South Wales, being the Pacific Highway.

Officially I’d like to welcome the Federal government’s $80 million, being fast-tracked, being brought forward, which will allow the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals state government working with Transport for NSW to be able to progress this project to the next phase, to really get on with the scope and that planning and to be able to bring this project forward.

And whilst we’re here today, I must acknowledge the work of our Premier of New South Wales Dominic Perrottet, working with Prime Minister Albanese in securing this additional money for New South Wales roads across this great state. And Avoca Drive is just one of them. So, I really want to acknowledge, welcome and thank the Commonwealth government for this additional contribution. And as Minister King, as my federal counterpart has said, this is all about working together to make sure that we are delivering the infrastructure that matters to the people of regional New South Wales, the infrastructure that matters to the people of this great state but whilst at the same time whilst we’re securing that bright future we’re reducing congestion. We’re making sure that people can get from A to B more efficiently, and we’re making sure that we're backing in these local communities, like what we’re doing here on the Central Coast.

EMMA MCBRIDE: I’m so pleased to be here today as the member for Dobell alongside my colleague and friend Dr Gordon Reid, the member for Robertson, and to welcome back Minister King to the Central Coast and Minister Farraway.

Road safety, improving safety and easing congestion is something that is front of mind for everybody on the Central Coast, and Dr Reid and I have an approach of having the Central Coast and looking at it as a region. It’s so important to welcome this additional funding, $70 million here in Kincumber, and bringing $80 million forward for such an important project – upgrading the Pacific Highway through Wyong. This is a welcome investment announcement. As Minister King has said, this is about announcing and delivering – making sure that the people of the Central Coast can get around safely and easily.

This is a very welcome investment from the Albanese Labor government in partnership with the New South Wales Government. And I’m so pleased to be here alongside my colleague Gordon Reid, the member for Robertson, to be able to – we have fought so hard to be able to be strong advocates of the Central Coast to make sure that the Central Coast is a top priority of the Albanese Labor government, to make sure that we aren’t left behind, to make sure that the people of the Central Coast get what they deserve now and into the future. So we’re so pleased to welcome this funding today and making sure that these projects will be delivered in our community. So thank you for being here.

CATHERINE KING: Happy to answer any questions.

JOURNALIST: Beautiful. So how will the – we’ll start here in Avoca, how will the upgrades look, talking duplication of the road, making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists. How will that actually happen?

CATHERINE KING: Yeah, well, I might actually get Gordon to talk a little bit about that because he’s been talking to parents along that section of road. He took me there just recently – was it in the election campaign; I can’t remember if it was that or after or it was actually a little more recently – to talk a little bit about that, and obviously we’ve balking talking with Transport for NSW [indistinct] the things that he’s been saying, the sorts of issues, particularly around that sporting precinct [indistinct] that duplication is so necessary, particularly at school dropoff times.

GORDON REID: So, the Avoca Drive upgrade is one of the big election commitments that we took to the Federal election in 2022. What it involves is an upgrade between Killuna Road and Carrak Road just a bit down that way, to upgrade that part of the road, making it safer, to ease congestion. Initially, the $32 million election commitment was put on to the table and now with further Federal funding to bring it to a total of $100 million we can fast-track that upgrade and get the planning underway.

There was significant community consultation done throughout the federal election, through doorknocking, through phone banking, thousands were spoken to not just here in Kincumber but also the feeder suburbs that are going to be impacted by this road being upgraded, that are going to benefit from this road being upgraded. So, I’m talking about places like Avoca, I’m talking about Saratoga, I’m talking about Davistown, I’m talking about Green Point. All those areas are going to benefit from this road being upgraded.

So in consultation with the New South Wales government and the department, the NSW Transport and Federal Infrastructure Australia we’ll be going through the process of looking at how we’re going to upgrade this road.

JOURNALIST: During the election campaign you were criticised by your Liberal opponent saying it was incorrectly costed and that there was not going to be enough. You’ve put another $70 million on the table. Does that mean that it was incorrectly costed during the election campaign?

GORDON REID: No. No, not at all. We want to make sure that we see this road upgraded as soon as possible. And part of that is making sure that we have the federal funding there available, which Catherine has come here today to announce. This is such an important part of our community; it is the missing link between multiple different parts of the Central Coast, from the peninsula to the beaches and into the city as well. Like I said, it’s going to ease congestion for parents dropping their kids off to school. It’s going to make sure that people going to and from work can get there easily and don’t spend too much time in their car. It’s going to make sure that emergency services can get to where they need to go in fast time, in rapid time. If that’s an ambulance going to the scene or a hospital, we have to make sure that it can happen as soon as possible.

JOURNALIST: If it wasn’t incorrectly costed then why was another 70 million required to be announced today?

GORDON REID: No, no, what this additional funding is doing is making sure that we get the ball rolling on this project [indistinct], to make sure that we can upgrade it at a more rapid speed in consultation with the New South Wales government, like I said, for those reasons – to make sure that emergency services can get to the places they need to go, parents, children, can get to school.

Look, the coast is a forgotten part of Australia, it’s a forgotten part of New South Wales. We just need to make sure – and I will continue along with Emma, Emma McBride, the Member for Dobell, we will continue to fight for this region and do what we need to do to make sure we get the infrastructure that we deserve and that we need here.

JOURNALIST: As for a timeline, when can cars expect to be driving on a double Avoca Drive.

GORDON REID: Yeah, so I’ll give back to Catherine.

CATHERINE KING: So, the way in which these projects work, of course, is that the delivery partner is Transport for NSW. We’re making the money available now for Transport for NSW. They’ll need to do detailed design work, they’ll need to do planning work, they’ll need to [indistinct]. And that can at times take, you know, between six to 12 months to do on such projects, and our expectation in working with the New South Wales Government will be that then the actual work will get underway and it will depend obviously on the construction time frames from there. But we’re right at the start of this, the first stage is actually saying there’s money available to do this work.

JOURNALIST: Any ballpark timelines [indistinct]?

CATHERINE KING: Some might have an idea. You’d need to talk to Transport for NSW. The first thing is, you know, you’ve got to find out what’s underground. We don’t know, whether that’s pipelines, what has to be moved first. And that can actually be some of the most costly and time-consuming work to do, is actually to map what services are actually underground and then moving those. That’s the first step of any design work that we need to do. And it’s obviously a fairly constrained corridor, so just trying to work out what’s the best way to do that. So that will be a start. We then give Transport for NSW the money they need to do the work.

JOURNALIST: Why did the Federal government need to give funding for a state road?

CATHERINE KING: Yeah, well, I think we’ve seen that across the board, we’ve seen increasingly the federal government has been wanting to partner to really ensure that, you know, communities are liveable. And part of making sure that communities are liveable is that people can move about them. I don’t see – you know, we’re not just building a road; we’re actually building communities and we’re connecting people together. So, you know, we’ve partnered with local governments. We’ve done that for a long time through the Road Recovery program. We’ve been partnering with state governments as well on some of their road infrastructure. And I think we all recognise that it’s very much a shared responsibility when it comes to actually making these beautiful parts of the world liveable. And that’s sort of what this is about today – is not just improving the road infrastructure but it’s so close to Wyong [indistinct] able to make sure that with the [indistinct] work there be able to get about your business in a way that really at the moment [indistinct] because of a deficit of some of this infrastructure.

JOURNALIST: What about delivery? When can we expect to start seeing these projects?

SAM FARRAWAY: Well, firstly, again, I would like to acknowledge $100 million is a significant contribution from the Commonwealth. It won’t fully pay for the build of the works here at Avoca Drive. But what I would say is that the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals state government have a very good track record of working the Commonwealth. We’re seeing that with the Coalition. We’re seeing that now with the new Commonwealth government. When we have a co-funding contribution like this on the Central Coast – and we’ve only got to look at the Pacific Highway duplication, a $420 million project. The reality is is that the state government, we build infrastructure, the Federal government don’t build things. We have to build them, but we can’t do that without the Commonwealth government on board. And I’ve always been a massive advocate for the Commonwealth 80-20 funding split because what it does is it allows certainty for state government, like the New South Wales Liberals and Nationals government, to get on with building that infrastructure on the ground.

Now, as Minister King has said, and rightly so, this is going to give the certainty that we have this almost fully funded, over a long way there. The Commonwealth are chipping in from a regional perspective on a regional road that I certainly as the Regional Roads Minister agree with. We will now start planning. We will now start the planning. We will start accelerating that with the certainty of this $100 million. And again I welcome it. But if we also look at the duplications of works that we have in the Wyong Town Centre upgrade, we have already started scoping and looking at designs and options.

It's worth noting that we have a range of town centre upgrade projects across New South Wales, and they’re not all the same. You have to tailor these projects to the local community, to the local infrastructure and how you want that infrastructure to look into the future. So, what I would say is that happy to take offline specific dates, but we are right at the beginning of this phase. And we will now have the certainty to start properly consulting with the community, working with local government and Transport from NSW starting to look at the initial design of what we want to do here on Avoca Drive, whilst at the same time bringing forward this $80 million from the Commonwealth to start fast-tracking the works on site here and the design in and around the Pacific Highway.

JOURNALIST: Minister, how do these two projects fit into the draft and proposed transport plan that Dominic Perrottet presented on Sunday?

SAM FARRAWAY: Well, firstly they are a key part of that plan. And like any transport plan, we’re developing transport plans right across regional New South Wales. If you want to build the infrastructure that matters, you’ve got to plan it out. Now, you can’t do the planning until you know you’ve got the cash. Once you’ve got the cash, you can really start following through with transport plans and making sure you bring the community on that journey.

What you have to do is you have to identify first what infrastructure that the community needs. And we’ve done exactly that here on the Central Coast. The duplication of the Pacific Highway between Johnson Road and Cutler Road is needed. It is committed by both the state and federal governments. We’ve started the design works. We’re going to continue to progress these works. And again, today, Avoca Drive here is a really important part of that overall transport plan, but so are some of the top upgrades that we’ve got here, like on the Central Coast.

We need to make sure, and as Minister King has said – and I totally agree – that we’ve made regions like the Central Coast more liveable. Whether you work, live or play here on the Central Coast, we want to make sure you can get from A to B and it is a fantastic part of this state. And we’ve got to make sure that regions, whether it’s the Hunter Valley and Upper Hunter, whether it’s here or the Central Coast, I’m committed as the Regional Roads Minister working with the Commonwealth that we don’t allow these regions to be held back by congestion into the future. And to do that you’ve got to plan, you’ve got to secure the funding, you’ve got to build the infrastructure that we need for tomorrow, not just today.

JOURNALIST: Way back in April it was the Liberal-National state government that you’re speaking about that actually criticised this announcement saying that the upgrades were in the wrong spot. The Avoca [indistinct] more into the intersection as opposed to the road itself. Is there any announcements on the way to upgrade those intersections, or do you think that the duplication of the road is where the focus needs to be?

SAM FARRAWAY: Well, firstly, again, I welcome the announcement. We work very closely with our road engineers and our design engineers within Transport for NSW. The person I do listen to is Adam Crouch. Adam Crouch, hard-working local member for the Central Coast. He is in my office banging on my door every week about road infrastructure that he needs here in the Central Coast. He understands we need to partner with the Commonwealth, and that’s how we’re going to build this infrastructure.

At the end of the day, people like Adam Crouch and myself are outcome driven. We want to see a plan in place, funding secured. We want to get on with building this infrastructure, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

JOURNALIST: So, it was Adam Crouch that said in April, “Anyone with any local knowledge would realise that the congestion point is the intersection of Bungoona/Carrak Road and Avoca Drive,” and he said that that is where the funding should go.

SAM FARRAWAY: Well, Adam Crouch has spoken to me again about the Pacific Highway funding, making sure that we continue to progress that project. Adam Crouch has spoken and met with me many a times about Avoca Drive, and today we've got the funding that has been secured from the Commonwealth. A huge role also to play here from the New South Wales government and Transport for NSW. We're going to continue to get on with the job now and to make sure that we're building this infrastructure, planning this infrastructure. And as the Regional Roads Minister that’s exactly why I’m here today – to confirm to the community that we’re going to get cracking on with this design.