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Editorial: The South East remains the forgotten corner

Once again the Federal budget has forgotten us in the South East. The campaign to improve our blackspot mobile coverage has been pulled up so any of you out there in a mobile blackspot had better just suck it in. The Feds have committed to roads and bridges elsewhere. The closest we have to any of the money is in Nowra where they are doing everything they can to keep Gilmore in Liberal hands. There is nothing of any outcry about this on either Mike Kelly's facebook page or Fiona Phillips. Mike has had success with his campaign to spend on the Barton Highway but that does squeak for any of us on the coast.

Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis s reported as saying to Fairfax “Eurobodalla has only been part of the Gilmore electorate since 2016.

“Now, I’m working on trying to get the Princes Highway recognised as a road of strategic importance.”

“I have spoken to Andrew Constance, and we want to see good connectivity between Batemans Bay and Nowra” That's all nice but what about the rest of the South East - the forgotten corner.

Andrew Constance continues to bring up 26m long B-doubles and how they will improve our economies of scale. Look at a transport map and you will see a great big empty space in the Eurobodalla that doesn't allow 26m B-doubles. Both the Brown and Clyde Mountains have major difficulties in dealing with semi-trailers.

With the failing road network we have comes bridges that also don't have the capacity. Narooma Bridge and even the small bridge at Mogo have considerable failings that need to be addressed along with the lack of any vision for how to have the juggernauts that are 26m B-Doubles manage their way through our highway townships. And it isn't all about "imports". The limitations of our roads and bridges also means that our industry is limited to "exporting" in 19m b-doubles which means increased costs in transportation. You might imagine that Eurobodalla Council are all over this but they aren't. Sixteen months ago a motion was put up by Councillor Constable and agreed to unanimously that the relevent parties from all spheres of government come to the table to look at a 30 year plan for our South East transport network so that serious lobbying by three levels of government could commence for funding to improve our trade links and safety. However Eurobodalla Council staff determined not to go ahead with that very clear direction and no meeting has been held and no explanation has been given of why they ignored the directive. There is a South East Area Transport Strategy (SEATS) body set up to look at all of this and to make recommendations however they are proving to be more than ineffectual. Last October they did establish a petition that was to run until the end of February 2018. The Petition was apparently available at local Council Offices and Information Centres across the South East Region calling on the Federal Government to take action to officially recognise the importance of the Princes Highway between East Sale and Wollongong as a major freight and tourist route and commit additional and on-going funding to address the condition of this vital transport network which covers over 739kms. The problem with their petition was that they didn't bother telling anyone they had one. Even at their February meeting an agenda item was tabled reminding attending members that the "SEATS Petition sought to have the Princes Highway recognised as a major Freight and Tourist route and requests official recognition under the “National Land Transport Network Act 2014”, to help secure much needed additional funding closes at the end of February". Still they forgot to tell the community. More recently the SEATS Chair, a councillor from Shoalhaven City Council, has been in the media talking about Fixing It Now yet she too has made no mention of the Princes Highway as a whole nor offered any inkling of their SEATS petition So we all sit back and wonder why there was no money in the Budget and why there is no proposed funding commitments for long term projects that will see improved transport in the South East. The answer is simple - nobody seriously asked for it.

If you don't build it they won't come - the 26m B-Double void that is the South East NSW

#Editorial #LeiParker #Weekly #Opinion

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