OUR SAY: Black spot funding is good for us, bad for Andrew Gee

NO PLAYING FAVOURITES: Member for Calare Andrew Gee has denied Orange has been given favourable treatment in terms of black spot funding.
NO PLAYING FAVOURITES: Member for Calare Andrew Gee has denied Orange has been given favourable treatment in terms of black spot funding.

THEY say in politics that perception is reality, and once the electorate forms an opinion about a person or their party, it can be very hard to change it.

And if that is really the case, then member for Calare Andrew Gee has some work to do with Bathurst voters before the next federal election.

Mr Gee has been asked to explain why Bathurst Regional Council has been left waiting almost a year for news about their application for federal black spot funding towards the cost of a new roundabout at the city’s worst intersection, while two new roundabouts have been fully funded in Orange over the past few months.

It was in June last year – 20 years after the project was first recommended by council’s own engineers – that councillors finally voted to go ahead with a roundabout at the intersection of Lambert, Mitre and Suttor streets in west Bathurst.

Council set aside money in the 2017-18 budget to meet half the estimated $1.7 million bill for the roundabout in the hope that federal black spot funding would be made available for the other half.

Almost a full year down the track, though, council and roundabout advocates are still waiting for an answer from the federal government.

That is frustrating enough but, naturally, their concerns are further heightened when they see money being spent so freely just up the road in Orange.

A $635,000 roundabout was opened at the intersection of Woodward and Moulder streets in June 2017 while just last week Mr Gee welcomed the opening of a $225,000 roundabout at Wakeford Street, Winter Street and Icely Road, near Canobolas Rural Technology High School.

Those roundabouts are welcome additions for Orange’s residents and motorists, but in the context of Mr Gee’s plans to retain the seat at the next election – as the Nationals have done since 2007 – it’s something of a bad look, especially given Mr Gee was previously the state member for the Orange electorate.

For his part, Mr Gee has denied any favouritism and accuses those suggesting otherwise of political point scoring, but the perception remains that the now federal member’s old stamping ground is getting more than its share of this funding.

As always in politics, perception is reality, and the people of Bathurst are asking just what is going on.

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