Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward has back-flipped so many times on the start date for the Albion Park Rail bypass over the last 11 months he should be on the Australian Olympics gymnastics team.

Mr Ward has this week claimed work on the Albion Park bypass can only start by 2019 – conveniently, a few weeks before the next state election campaign.

But Mr Ward told the Illawarra Mercury on 5 June 2015 (attached) the day after the State Parliament passed the electricity sell-off legislation, which partly funds the project:

…we will get on with building the Albion Park Rail bypass…

In line with our commitment, work will start in 2018. (Emphasis added)

A month earlier however, Mr Ward told State Parliament in a speech on 14 May 2015:

The New South Wales Government has committed funding to allow construction to commence by early 2019. (Emphasis added)

Now in public comments reported for the first time in the Illawarra Mercury yesterday, Mr Ward has changed his position again by saying:

When I went to the election I said we would start this project in the 2018-19 financial year, that was the commitment we made (Emphasis added)

But no such commitment on such a precise timetable was ever given as the Premier announced:

Today, we are committing funding to ensure the full bypass will be delivered and we’ll get construction underway in our next term of government. (Gareth Ward MP press release, 15 March 2015)

And the start of work on the bypass has even confused the Premier, who told State Parliament on 10 March 2016 that it was:

All underway and happening. (Legislative Assembly Hansard, 10 March 2016)

Comments attributable to Anna Watson:

“Gareth Ward now says work on the Albion Park Rail bypass can’t start any earlier than 2019.

“But less than a year ago, Mr Ward was telling the local media “…work will start in 2018”.

“Mr Ward has deliberately, wilfully and habitually misled himself over the last 11 months.

“Mr Ward has had been so flat out spinning his position on a start date for the Albion Park Rail he should be on the Australian Olympic gymnastics team.

“There are only two things holding back the Government’s ‘go slow’ construction of the Albion Park Rail Bypass before 2019:

“1) WestConnex is soaking up all Government road funding as the project continues to blow out; and

2) Mr Ward is only interested in sticking a shovel into the ground a few weeks before the next state election for cheap media vote grabbing headlines.”


14 April 2016