Nationals MPs from Western NSW have a chance to show the party has sway with the Liberal Party by getting the groundwork started on a Bells Line Expressway.
Bathurst Business Chamber president Angus Edwards said a fast and efficient path through the Blue Mountains would be a much better investment than $2 billion towards new stadiums, and with the coalition in power at both state and federal level, they could work together to make it happen.
“There is a real opportunity here to get it done with the Nationals MPs and Phil Donato in Orange,” Mr Edwards said.
“With the same party holding both levels of government, it seems like the perfect time for the National to demonstrate the political will to make it happen and prove they aren’t the poor cousins to a city-centric government.”
The Bathurst Business Chamber had been a long-time supporter of the expressway, Mr Edwards said, but pointed out most in the Central West and Orana were in favour.
“It is supported by business chambers and local councils unanimously because of the large number of people who will benefit,” she said.
“This is a regional issue that affects everyone west of the Blue Mountains. A good road to Sydney would allow residents to get down to Sydney easier but would also enhance tourism by making weekend trips easier.
“There is the benefit for freight and transport, it will be quicker and easier to get goods to market.
“Then there is the road safety issue, not just from a business perspective but people are being injured, but then those accidents can often close the Bells Line or one direction of the Great Western highway.”
The significance of a direct link between western NSW and Sydney, and scale of the project, would be enough to make it a major national project, Mr Edwards said.
“The real point about the stadiums is that there are already perfectly good stadiums and I believe the economic study showed there wasn’t going to be any real economic benefit,” he said.
“$2 billion would go a long way to getting the expressway built.
“I think it would be considered a nation-building project. The federal government has started Snowy 2.0 claiming it is a nation-building project, well here is another project in that category.”
Sydney was almost full, Mr Edwards said, and an expressway would allow Lithgow to act as a suburb of Western Sydney and ease some of the pressure on the Sydney basin.
And while some might be sceptical the project would ever happen, Mr Edwards said, others said similar things about the daily return rail service between Bathurst and Sydney, which the government made a reality in 2012.
“People said that would never happen, that it would cost too much, but by people not giving up and getting the point across it was achieved,” he said.
“Everyone needs to talk to their local member and make sure those who are elected know that people want a Bells Line Expressway. That is the best way to keep the pressure on.”