The NSW government will reconsider changing the design of a bypass that has drawn the ire of locals in the Upper Hunter electorate, before a crucilal by-election.
The bypass of the Singleton town centre was promised in 2013 and originally due to open in 2017, but now won’t be completed until late 2026.
Locals are also unhappy with the design of the upgrade, which includes only a northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp.
The Singleton Council is among those calling for a full interchange, with the National Party’s candidate on Thursday announcing he would convinced the government to have another look at the issue.
Locals head to the polls on May 22 after Nationals MP Michael Johnsen quit parliament after he was accused of raping a woman in 2019, which he denies.
However, NSW Labor has urged voters in the Upper Hunter to take the Singleton bypass as a proof of how little the coalition cares about the community.
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay says the coalition government’s failure to act on community concerns until now shows their contempt for the electorate.
“Yesterday the premier said judge us on our track record. Well, let’s judge the premier on her track record,” she said.
It was extraordinary that locals were still waiting for construction to begin on the upgrade, four years after it was supposed to be delivered, Ms McKay said.
“I know this area and we got caught in that traffic the other day coming into Singleton,” she told reporters in the town on Thursday.
“It is extraordinary that that traffic is banked up for kilometres, simply because people are going to and from work.”
Delivering the full interchange the community had spent years asking for would cost the government only an extra $25 million, she said.
“Now $25 million may sound a lot, but it is a drop in the ocean for this government.”
Nationals candidate David Layzell said he backed the community’s calls for the full interchange to be funded and had spoken to the Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole about the issue.
“I know this is something that the NSW government is considering and I will work with Mr Toole and Mr Barilaro to get a positive result for the Upper Hunter,” Mr Layzell said.
The Berejiklian government is desperate to hold the marginal seat – otherwise it will spend the remaining nearly two-years of its current term in minority.
Meanwhile, the Greens have become the fourth horse to officially enter the race for the seat, on Thursday announcing Upper Hunter Shire councillor Sue Abbott as their candidate.
Labor has put forward former coalminer and local CFMEU leader Jeff Drayton as its Upper Hunter candidate, while Singleton Business Chamber president Sue Gilroy will stand for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
One Nation is also expected to put forward a candidate.