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 to appreciate the toll on families, the community and the 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) initial response was disappointing.

In the year since FIX IT NOW was launched, the official silence from NSW Labor has been deafening. 

That silence was broken on Tuesday afternoon when Mr Park issued a carefully worded statement saying Labor would match the Coalition's budgeted highway commitments.  

Just what that means will become apparent next Tuesday when the Parliamentary Budget Office releases the costings of the major parties' election promises. A Labor source we spoke to said there would be "no daylight" between what the two parties committed to the highway, as long as it was in the budget.

This will come as a great relief to the candidates Labor is standing on the South Coast. We know former nurse and midwife Annette Alldrick, who is running for South Coast, has seen the sharp end of road trauma. She has been pestering her party bosses to get aboard the FIX IT NOW bus. We know, too, Bega candidate Leanne Atkinson was moved when shown the campaign's coverage.

We have always maintained fixing the highway should be above politics.

We welcome Labor's support for this critical project.