The Commonwealth Government has backflipped on a promise to provide $75m in funding for the Wakehurst Parkway.

The funding commitment was made by the former Commonwealth Government and announced by former Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski prior to the last election. Mr Falinski was known for his tireless campaigning on the issue of the Wakehurst Parkway, particularly recurrent flooding problems.

The Commonwealth agreed to provide $75m towards the Wakehurst Parkway, matched by an equal amount of funding from the NSW Government, for a total of $150m. It is understood the Commonwealth Government commitment has been completely withdrawn in tonight’s budget (25 October).

Northern Beaches Council has received $18m from the NSW Government to resolve persistent flooding issues along the stretch from the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation at North Narrabeen to Oxford Falls.

The $150m co-funding promise from state and federal government was initially slated for works between Oxford Falls and Frenchs Forest in preparation for the Beaches Link Tunnel. With immediate tunnel works deferred however, it is understood that the funding was going to be made available for the overall upgrade.

Roads Minister Natalie Ward with infrastructure Minister Rob Stokes

NSW Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport and Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes said he had personally gone to Canberra ahead of the budget to lobby for the commitment of the previous government to be maintained.

Rob Stokes

Rob Stokes

“I went to Canberra in advance of the budget to discuss the funding for Wakehurst Parkway with Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King.

“I made the argument that the upgrade was sorely needed and fought for the money to be retained in the budget. I’m not sure what representations Dr Scamps’ office has made in this regard,” said Minister Stokes.

Member for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps

Labor’s backflip has done no favours for Dr Sophie Scamps, who won the seat of Mackellar in the May election from Mr Falinski in the ‘teal wave’ that swept Independents into office and the Liberals from Government. Dr Scamps denied the suggestion that she had not fought to retain the money.

Sophie Scamps

Sophie Scamps

“I made strong representations on behalf of the people of Mackellar to both the Infrastructure Minister and the Treasurer to fight for the Wakehurst Parkway funding – the Albanese Government’s decision is very disappointing.

“The $75m in funding was originally allocated on the basis that the Northern Beaches Tunnel was going ahead. However, the NSW Liberal State Government broke their promise to the people of the Northern Beaches and cancelled the project and this has directly led to the withdrawal of this funding.

“As a State issue, if there was anyone who could’ve done anything to fix the Wakehurst Parkway – it was the NSW Liberal State Government. In particular, Rob Stokes himself had responsibility for the project under a number of different portfolios during his 14 years as the Member for Pittwater, including his current role as NSW Infrastructure Minister, and previously as Minister for Planning as well as Minister for Transport and Roads.

“With a state election around the corner, any attempt to shift the blame by the NSW Liberal Government smells like damage control over their abject failure to deliver on the Parkway. In addition, it is now clear the Commonwealth money was not originally allocated to flood mitigation works but was allocated in preparation for work on the Northern Beaches Tunnel,” said Dr Scamps.

Jason Falinski at the Wakehurst Parkway

Former Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski, a long-time campaigner for Wakehurst Parkway upgrades, was quick to express his outrage at the loss of funding.

Jason Falinski

Jason Falinski

“This is incredibly disappointing. The biggest issue for working families on the Northern Beaches is transport in and out of the area. Infrastructure Australia has rated this corridor as the most congested in Australia. The decision smacks of political class warfare over rational decision making.

“I am shocked and horrified at the petty politics of this. This was six years of hard work with a lot of people in the community. It was the single biggest issue raised by working mums and dads,” said Mr Falinski in the wake of the budget decision.

Minister Stokes said he was dismayed the backflip saw money taken away from solving a crucial transport problem for the Northern Beaches.

“The withdrawal of the funding is deeply disappointing, but the NSW Government made a commitment to co-fund $75m for upgrading the Wakehurst Parkway, and we will stick to that promise, despite the budget backflip from Labor.

“Unfortunately, it means that we will now have to revise the planning to accommodate the significantly lower amount. It shows what happens to the families of the Northern Beaches when Labor is in power. Whatever you might think, the reality is that a local Liberal member of parliament delivered $75m and an Independent has delivered nothing,” said Minister Stokes.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

Hold up!

There has been an update to this story with a response from the NSW Government to the loss of funds from the Commonwealth.

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