28 November 2023

$100m for major Snowy Mountains road cancelled with 'little to no consultancy', says chamber

| Claire Sams
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Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce president Olivier Kapetanakos said the recent road funding announcement had left ”a lot of doubt” in the community. Photo: Supplied.

Questions about the future of a planned major road in Jindabyne have been raised after $100 million in funding was cut. The Federal Government money was pulled following the Albanese Government’s review into infrastructure spending across Australia, which saw funding re-evaluated or cancelled for dozens of regional and metropolitan projects.

Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce president Olivier Kapetanakos said the government’s recent announcement had left “a lot of doubt” around the road’s viability.

“To be told they think the Southern Connector Road isn’t a worthy expenditure is a bit of a hard blow,” Mr Kapetanakos said.

“It certainly puts the whole project in doubt.

“The confusion really lies in the source of the funding [for the road].”

A proposed two-lane road, the Southern Connector Road would connect east and west Jindabyne via Barry Way, with a lane in each direction.

A map showing the location of a proposed road

Barry Way is a major thoroughfare in the region, with the proposed road set to cross it. Image: NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Mr Kapetanakos said the Southern Connector Road would bring economic development to the regional town.

“The town itself has no main street because the Kosciuszko Road is a national highway that goes through Jindabyne, so we’ve basically got two sides of the town,” he said.

“One side has parks and some clubs and some caravan parks – the other side has residential and shopping areas.”

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Mr Kapetanakos said the chamber saw the project as a chance for further development as a tourist town beyond the snow season.

“The transformative part of the SAP [Special Activation Precinct] was to generate tourism opportunities for at least 10 months of the year,” he said.

“That would take Jindabyne from a four-month economy to a 10-month economy.

“Without that road, we’re not going to get any closer to those economic developments.”

With the $100m in federal funding removed, Mr Kapetanakos said, $196m was left to cover the cost of the Southern Connector Road project.

“The government’s made the decision with little to no consultancy,” he said.

“How is that going to deliver the same outcomes?

“A big part of the funding has been removed and we don’t know what the project’s going to look like now.”

According to the finalised blueprint, released in July 2022, the road would fall under the Snowy Mountains SAP Master Plan.

SAPs are six focused areas across the state where the NSW Government is working to provide economic development and infrastructure.

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In a November statement following the review, Member for Monaro Steve Whan said efforts to build the road would continue.

“The cancellation of funding for the Southern Connector Road by the Federal Government is deeply disappointing, but the NSW Government will still work to deliver on the SAP’s vision,” he said.

“I will also continue to work closely with our federal member Kristy McBain because I know she is 100 per cent committed to ensuring the Snowy Mountains community gets the infrastructure and services it needs.

“The work for the Snowy SAP will continue to progress and will deliver the transformative infrastructure that Jindabyne deserves.”

In his statement, Mr Whan said the NSW Government would consider which infrastructure projects should be prioritised.

“I note comment from some in Jindabyne expressing frustration with the timeframes for decisions on what and when will be funded,” he said.

“We do need to cost the individual projects properly (something that had not happened when I became member) and we did need to know the outcome of the federal review.”

Further information on the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct, including ongoing drop-in consultation sessions, can be found on the NSW Government’s website.

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Australian governments seem to care very little for regional infrastructure. Yes the cancelled road has economic benefits (BC ratio?). Another regional road with potentially HUGE economic benefits is the so ling ignored it’s stunning, is a road west from Canberra through the Brindabellas, through Tumut and Adelong, to the Hume Highway at near the eastern end of the Sturt Highway. Both NSW and Federal governments it seems, deliberately, continue to ignore it. The Tumut Council, having lobbied for it since Canberra’s establishment in 1913, seems to have given up. The Labour-Green ACT (population now almost half a million) Government has publicly stated that they do not consider that the ACT needs any more road links, anywhere! Astoundingly dumb.

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