MPs stoush over highway

VASSE MLA Libby Mettam has called on Collie Preston MLA Mick Murray to support the dualling of Bussell Highway between Busselton and Capel, which also sits in his electorate.

Ms Mettam wrote to Mr Murray urging him to support the project after new congestion figures were revealed in parliament.

Ms Mettam said the dual carriageway upgrade should be a priority for the state government.

“Whilst the Member for Collie Preston is currently leading a committee on how to spend $20 million for the Collie Preston electorate, I encourage consideration for this shovel ready project that will create at least 100 jobs and undoubtedly improve road safety and support the South West region,” she said.

“This should be funded through Main Roads. Government funding for important projects should not stop in Liberal seats because there has been a change of government.” Mr Murray hit back and said during Ms Mettam’s time in the former government, no funding was committed to this project.

“Nothing was committed towards the project under Ms Mettam’s Liberal predecessor Troy Buswell either,” he said.

“By my count Ms Mettam raised the need for this project in parliament a grand total of one time in her two-and-a-half years as a member of the former government.

“This has only become a priority for the Liberal Party now that they are in opposition – and know that their poor economic management has left the current government without the funding to undertake the upgrade.”

Mr Murray said the Collie Futures Fund, which Ms Mettam referred to, was designed to address the unique challenges Collie and the wider South West faced from the shifting energy market.

He said the only option to fund this project would be for the state to borrow more money.

“That is something both the Liberal Party and Ms Mettam know the taxpayer simply cannot afford,” he said.

“I will continue to monitor the pre-construction work being carried out by Main Roads as we consider whether funding for the project can be allocated in future budgets.”

Last month, Forrest MP Nola Marino entered the debate and said her hands were tied unless the state government made the project a priority.

Parliament recently heard the average weekday traffic count along the stretch was approximately 14,000 vehicles per day.

From January 2013 to December 2017, there have been 134 crashes, including four fatalities and 15 hospitalisations.

The stretch of highway was named as one of WA’s top 10 most risky roads in RAC’s 2016/17 Risky Roads survey.

Source: Busselton Dunsborough Mail.