The federal coalition has done more for NSW with its promise to spend $5.


6 billion upgrading the Pacific Highway if elected than the government has done in five years, the NSW Premier says.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss have committed to an 80-20 national-state funding partnership to complete the duplication of the highway.

A future coalition federal government would spend $5.6 billion to get the job done, including $2.08 billion in federal funds earmarked for Sydney’s Epping to Parramatta rail link.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the money would be better spent on the highway.

“(The commitment) obviously means that road will be completed on target should the federal coalition win next year’s election,” he told reporters on Saturday.

The announcement was evidence that co-operation between state and federal governments was crucial to making infrastructure projects in the state a reality, Mr O’Farrell said.

“The federal Labor party’s commitment to Parramatta to Epping was always a political stunt in the dying days of the 2010 election campaign.

“It was clear that they were not going to reallocate that funding to other, more urgent infrastructure projects across Sydney or NSW, so this decision by Mr Abbott and Mr Truss is welcome.”

But Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said the funding commitment, made at the Nationals conference in Canberra on Saturday, meant the upgrade would not be completed this decade.

“What we have today is an extraordinary proposition whereby the National Party, Warren Truss, and the NSW government have been green-lighted to ignore the 2016 deadline,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Mr Albanese said the NSW government agreed, before the last state election, to a 50-50 funding split.

If a future coalition government were to rely on funds allocated for the Sydney rail link to increase its share of the funding, the highway upgrade could not be completed on time, he said.

“There’s just $67 million allocated to the Parramatta to Epping rail link prior to 2016 because the arrangement with the NSW government that’s been abandoned by the O’Farrell government, was that NSW would contribute its money first, then the federal government would commit its money,” he said.

The announcement was a slap in the face to commuters from northwest Sydney, he said.

“It says that Tony Abbott is not fair dinkum, and Barry O’Farrell isn’t fair dinkum. They’ve spent this money in about four different places now,” he said.

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said in a statement the Labor government “would rather sit on the cash and let it gather dust”.

The Pacific Highway upgrade will deliver economic benefits of $1.50 for every $1 spent, according to Infrastructure Australia.