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$300 million to fix regional bridges

AFFORDABILITY V NECESSITY: National’s candidate for Page Kevin Hogan, Mayor Richie Williamson and Shadow parliamentary secretary for Roads Daren Chester.
AFFORDABILITY V NECESSITY: National’s candidate for Page Kevin Hogan, Mayor Richie Williamson and Shadow parliamentary secretary for Roads Daren Chester.

A DROP of water in the Clarence River doesn't do too much and it would be fair to say the metaphor extends to $300 million to fix the country's wooden bridges.

National Party hopeful for Page Kevin Hogan and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Regional Development Daren Chester met yesterday with Richie Williamson at McPherson's Crossing, a small timber bridge over the Orara River.

They were there to re-affirm the National Party's Bridge to Renewal Program, which has $300 million to be spent on bridges across the country.

To place the figure in context, the Clarence Valley has 135 wooden bridges.

To replace one would cost about $1 million, so replacing every bridge would prove a bridge too far - a fact Mr Hogan acknowledged.

"I think we're readily acknowledging for that money we're not going to get them all done," Mr Hogan said.

But the money would help with repairs and Mr Hogan said the Labor Government has no similar commitment.

"It's only if we win," he said. Mr Chester said the money would make timber bridges safer.

"We see the need to ensure the continued safety of these bridges, and I under- stand the need to make sure that bridge upgrades and safety improvements keep pace with projected local population growth and other development pressures," Mr Chester said.

"By ending Labor's waste and getting the budget under control, we will be better placed to support important infrastructure upgrades in regional communities."

Member for Page Janelle Saffin said if Mr Hogan really wanted to support regional communities and fix their bridges he should get Tony Abbott to support the "Yes" case in the referendum on local government.

"I'd say to my political opponent, what are you doing?

"Why don't you call Tony Abbott off killing constitutional recognition for Local Government first?" she said.

Ms Saffin described the $300 million policy offering as a drop in the ocean.

She said Labor's Roads to Recovery program had already brought funding in for regional roads.

Topics:  kevin hogan


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