The Federal Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon has accused the NSW and Commonwealth Governments of ignoring the infrastructure needs of the Hunter region.
Speaking in the Parliament today, Mr Fitzgibbon highlighted four projects desperately in need of support:
- the Glendale Interchange in Lake Macquarie
- the Singleton by-pass
- the Muswellbrook by-pass
- the proposed Cessnock Ring Road and the need for a link between Cessnock and the Hunter Expressway.
Mr Fitzgibbon pointed out that the Glendale Interchange enjoyed the unanimous support of the Hunter regions eleven Councils and would provide enormous traffic flow and economic benefits.
He noted the Muswellbrook by-pass had been stopped in its tracks when Tony Abbott became Prime Minster and had remained stalled ever since.
He blamed the NSW Government for the lack of progress on the Singleton by-pass, saying the Commonwealth could not fund a project that didnt yet exist. The NSW Government must urgently complete the planning for this much needed project.
Mr Fitzgibbon was particularly scathing of the way the Cessnock community had been treated over the expansion of Cessnock Corrective Centre. He said the manner in which the NSW Government has progressed the project was a disgrace, citing its decision to change planning laws to avoid scrutiny and its failure to do anything to address the inevitable traffic, hospital and policing needs which would come with the expansion.
Mr Fitzgibbon recognised the massive jail expansion would bring economic benefits for Cessnock, however he is concerned the benefits will be outweighed by the problems caused in the absence of other physical and social investment.
Mr Fitzgibbon said Cessnock was enjoying rapid population growth and has significant traffic congestion problems which will be made substantially worse by the jail expansion.
The NSW Government can make up for the way it has treated Cessnock by funding a new ring road which will allow commuters to leave and re-enter the town without travelling through the CBD, and with a direct and dedicated link to the Hunter Expressway.
It also has to increase policing and make enhancements to Cessnock Hospital, Mr Fitzgibbon said.