ROADS Minister Melinda Pavey has delivered exactly what communities west of the Great Dividing Range were hoping to see when it came to the proposed Bells Line Expressway – more talk.
In an interview with Fairfax Media on Friday, Ms Pavey conceded there had already been “a hell of a lot of talk” on this subject over the past decade or so, and proceeded to offer even more.
And then, in case her rural voters were worried that all this talk might be coming to an end, Ms Pavey said that a planned meeting with the Centroc group of councils on Friday would actually be the start of discussions.
Even the preservation of the crucial Castlereagh Corridor that would allow an expressway to be built down the track has not yet been confirmed, though – we’re assured – there will be an announcement soon.
If words were tar, the Bells Line Expressway would have been completed many times over by now.
Of course, it’s unfair to blame Ms Pavey alone for the inaction on this issue because she is simply the latest in a long line of roads ministers – from both sides of politics – who have tried to bat the topic away by offering as little as possible while trying the provide the slightest glimmer of hope.
We understand this is a massive infrastructure project being discussed, but it’s also one that should proceed on the basis of economics (opening the growth areas of the Central West to Australia’s major city and ports); equity (providing the people of the Central West with a decent link to Sydney); and political expedience (finally delivering a project that has been on the drawing board for so long).
But the lack of action, as even acknowledged by the politicians charged with sparking that action, constantly leaves us doubting there is any political will at all.
Surely a decade or more of prevarication has been long enough to identify all the hurdles that stand in the way of building the Bells Line Expressway.
Can’t we now start discussing how we’ll overcome those hurdles?
If a Bells Line Expressway ever does come to fruition, though, you can be sure there will be no shortage of politicians lining up to cut the ribbon to bring the project to a close.
It’s a shame those same politicians are thin on the ground when it comes to getting the project started.