Last week was best described as a political whirlwind. A succession of federal and state politicians has been in town. We’ve been visited by a Labor shadow minister and a senator and a succession of Coalition ministers from the NSW government, passing through Nowra on their way to a community cabinet meeting in Ulladulla.
Accompanying the visits has been some good news: an election promise to completely upgrade the Shoalhaven hospital and the establishment of a training hub to skill local apprentices during the construction of the Berry to Bomaderry highway upgrade.
And there have been constructive conversations. We saw shadow environment minister Tony Burke sing the praises of Shoalhaven’s own Reclaimed Water Management Scheme (REMS). And NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey spent a solid hour-and-a-half with Fairfax Media’s FIX IT NOW committee.
During that conversation, the minister shed a tear as she was briefed about the terrible toll the Princes Highway has exacted on South Coast communities.
Ms Pavey said she’d had “adult conversations” with her federal counterpart and with deputy PM Michael McCormack about the need for federal funding to bring the Princes Highway south of the Jervis Bay up to an acceptable standard.
She urged the FIX IT NOW campaign to continue the fight for an improved highway because it was the best way to bring the issue to politicians’ attention. We intend to do just that and with increased vigour because we know that being an ultra marginal seat, we are very much on the radar in Canberra.
When we have politicians from all sides so energetically vying for our votes, that can only be a good thing.
To the Coalition government in Canberra, we say, “Show us the money. You want our votes and we want our highway upgraded and the best way that can happen is if you come on board with funding.” To the candidate it fields, we say: “Assure us you will fight for this, that you will be a pain in the proverbial until the funding agreement is secured.”
To Labor, especially shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese, we say, “Make a commitment. Come visit the electorate and talk to the widows and grieving parents we have spoken to. Make this highway a priority.” To Labor candidate Fiona Phillips, we say, “Get your party on board. We want a rock-solid commitment.”