Coalition promises 500 new rest areas if elected

Coalition vows to deliver 500 new rest areas if elected, but Albanese claims the project will be abandoned

Coalition promises 500 new rest areas if elected
Coalition promises 500 new rest areas if elected
By Brad Gardner | May 27, 2010

The Coalition has reiterated its pledge to build 500 new rest areas over 10 years if elected, rejecting government claims it has abandoned its $300 million promise.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese seized on comments from opposition spokesman on finance and debt reduction Andrew Robb that "past commitments have been discontinued" by the Coalition due to government debt.

Albanese accused opposition spokesman on transport Warren Truss of "treating the trucking industry and truck drivers like mugs" by backing away from his promise.

However, a spokesman for Truss says the Coalition will invest $30 million a year for 10 years to build 50 truck stops annually along the nation’s highways.

"That’s our promise and we’re standing by it," the spokesman says.

"We’re standing by all our promises."

Labelling the Coalition’s policy a "sham", Albanese says the Rudd Government is working with the industry to upgrade existing and build new rest areas under its $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program.

Funds from the program are also being invested in road and bridge upgrades, leading Truss to criticise the Government by saying not enough money is being funnelled into rest areas.

"With only 30 [rest areas] having been constructed so far, the government is clearly failing behind its obligations in this regard," he says.

The focus on rest areas will be welcome news for the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), which plans to use this year's federal election to get commitments from both sides of politics to invest more money in facilities.

Albanese has also used Robb’s comments to claim the Coalition will jettison upgrades to the Bruce Highway from Cooroy to Curra in Queensland.

He claims projects in NSW such as bypass west of Coffs Harbour and more overtaking lanes on the Newell Highway will be scrapped.

According to Albanese, a road linking Laverton in Western Australia and Winton in Queensland will also be abandoned by the Coalition.

Truss has strongly denied the claims, accusing Albanese of "deception".

Truss says most of the projects will be funded under the future AusLink—now the Nation Building Program—transport plans

"Other projects involve relatively small amounts of money and can easily be funded under the banner of the existing $26 billion transport construction budget," he says.

"On return to Government, the Coalition will not feel obligated to honour Labor’s forthcoming election promises but we will honour our own."

Albanese says the Rudd Government is investing in the Cooroy to Curra upgrade, the Coffs Harbour bypass and improvements to the Newell Highway.

"Here’s the bottom line: if the government in which Mr Truss was a senior member had acted during its 12 years in office then the duplication of the highway between Cooroy and Curra would today be nearing completion," he says.

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