Labor voters drive our killer highway too

When South Coast mastheads launched the Fix it Now campaign a year ago it was with clear bipartisan intent.

All political parties and candidates and all tiers of government were invited to back a safer Princes Highway. Saving lives was above politics. We knew it would take all of us. All politicians were invited to tour the highway and read our coverage of crashes and the toll on our families, our community and our economy. 

In March 2018, we looked forward to publishing the news that both major parties - at state and federal levels - had dropped the cudgels for this most worthy of causes. We looked forward to reporting that both major parties had committed to an 80-20 funding deal - regardless of who might prevail in coming elections.

That message seems to have been heard in Canberra, with a bipartisan statement of support signed between Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack and his Labor Shadow Anthony Albanese. Last week, the NSW Coalition promised historic funding for the highway - $960 million - if re-elected on March 23. NSW Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park's (pictured) response was disappointing in the extreme.

In the year since Fix it Now was launched, the official silence from NSW Labor has been deafening. That has been ominous, but almost preferable to the childish response Mr Park released late on Wednesday. He called the Coalition commitment "smoke and mirrors" and "monopoly money" - exactly the party-centric gamesmanship our campaign has sought to avoid.

Were Mr Park to match that figure and commit $960 million to the highway, would that also be "smoke and mirrors" and "monopoly money"? NSW Labor has sought to cover its own failure to commit a brass cent to fixing the Princes Highway by hurling abuse at the other side.

We are talking about people's lives and livelihood: the tradie killed in a head-on on his way to work; the truckies involved in head-ons on the dangerous workplace they cannot avoid; the injured spending weeks and months in hospital.

Country Labor candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson has read the coverage and was clearly affected. It seems there are harder hearts in NSW Labor's Sussex St headquarters who fail to grasp that tacking the word "Country" in front of the word "Labor" is not enough when it comes to the highway. 

Save lives. Fix it Now.