I have taken note of comments published in the Illawarra Mercury and an interview on ABC Illawarra today by Mr Craig Tate.

While a little surprised by the nature of Mr Tate’s comments given that he has never met me, raised any issue with me, or made contact with my office once to discuss the Albion Park Rail Bypass in the last five years, it is not the first time that I have made public comments about the timeframe for construction of the Bypass or it being brought forward to start on 1 July 2017.

I also note that Mr Tate does not reside in my electorate, but actually lives in the Kiama electorate.

I was unfortunately not informed by the Illawarra Mercury that it had conducted an interview with Mr Tate and his comments only came to my attention late last night when I read an article online.

I note Mr Tate told ABC Illawarra this morning that he has been in negotiations with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) for the last two years.

Nothing I have said for many months in relation to the Albion Park Rail Bypass proceeding earlier than 2019 would preclude the settlement of mutually agreed arrangements, either in the final design of the bypass, or compensation under the legislation, between Mr Tate and the RMS.

I suspect that Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP has presented Mr Tate with a much distorted version of my public position in order to generate sensational media coverage on this issue.

And I would also suggest that Mr Ward – given his past record – would not have been open at all to any involvement by me in relation to negotiations between Mr Tate and the RMS, despite his claims today.

I have written to Mr Tate today indicating that I would be happy to accept any invitation by him to visit his diary business at Albion Park to discuss the plans for the Albion Park Rail Bypass in further detail.

In the meantime, I welcome the opportunity Mr Ward’s censure motion threat presents me to highlight Labor’s investment record on road infrastructure across the Illawarra when State Parliament resumes in May and his Government’s ‘go slow’ construction of the Albion Park Rail Bypass planned just weeks before the 2019 state election campaign begins.


12 April 2016