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Pacific Highway $2.1bn fund diversion backed by Truss
25/06/2012 - A NSW government push to have $2.1 billion earmarked for a Sydney rail link transferred to the Pacific Highway has the backing of federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss.
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Truss said the proposal would be considered if the coalition won the next federal election.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell earlier this month called on the federal government to divert money earmarked for the Epping to Parramatta rail link to the Pacific Highway upgrade, with a federal-state funding spat putting the 2016 completion deadline in jeopardy.
NSW has complained of being left more than $2 billion short to finish converting the highway to dual carriageway, saying Canberra's insistence of a 50-50 funding agreement breached the original agreement for a 20-80 split.
Truss said a future federal coalition government would "examine" the proposal to divert the rail funding to the highway project.
"The NSW party have put to us the option of using the $2 billion the Labor Party had put aside for railway projects in Sydney, to move that across to the Pacific Highway," Truss told reporters at his party's state conference in Bowral on Sunday.
"We need to find where that money is in the forward estimates from the federal Labor government to make sure it actually exists, so we're able therefore to transfer it to the Pacific Highway.
"But we're certainly committed to completing the Pacific Highway as quickly as we can, and if this money is available it does seem to be a good solution."
NSW Deputy Premier and state Nationals leader Andrew Stoner said he was encouraged the federal opposition were considering the transfer of funding.
"Given the NSW government is committed to delivering the North West Rail Link, the federal government should do the right thing and transfer the $2.1 billion set aside for the Epping to Parramatta rail link to the Pacific Highway upgrade," Stoner said.
"The simple action of transferring funding of $2.1 billion would help the federal government meet their share of the 80-20 Federal-NSW funding split and assist with efforts to meet the 2016 deadline."
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