Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education and Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee were at Little Hartley inspecting the site of the multi-billion dollar Great Western Highway project today, set to commence work in 2022.
“According to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics a net 43,000 Australians moved to the regions in 2020 – the year prior, the net figure was nearly 19,000 people, so it’s more than doubled,” Mr Gee said.
“When gold was discovered at Ophir near Orange in 1851, tall ships in Sydney Harbour were abandoned as Sydney headed for the new gold fields in search of fortune and a better life. We haven’t seen migration inland like this since those early times in Australia’s history and it’s been a pandemic-driven decentralisation story.
“That it is why the $2.03 billion investment delivered by the Australian Government in the latest budget is critical to securing the continued growth and prosperity of the Central West.
“This major upgrade will begin on the corridor between Katoomba and Blackheath and between Little Hartley and Lithgow.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a real awakening by people in the city as to what lies over the Great Dividing Range, or sandstone curtain, as we like call it. This movement from city to country is bigger than the gold rush and it looks set to continue as Sydney expands westward and the new Western Sydney International Airport takes shape.
“With more and more people crossing the mountains, congestion will only worsen. Over the Easter holidays, it took both my daughters over nine hours to get to Orange from Sydney. Many from our region have recent horror stories like this.
“Easing congestion, making this road safer and reducing travel times is why the Australian Government has invested in the East and West sections, which will be the first to kick off with designs to be released to the community in coming weeks. This means motorists will benefit sooner.
“This builds on the Medlow Bath safety upgrade [at Bellevue Crescent and Foy Avenue] on the Great Western Highway which is now complete. A wider, safer highway through Medlow Bath has now been delivered through the Australian Government’s Road Safety Program while the major multi-billion dollar project gets cracking,” Mr Gee said.