Both sides of federal politics have heard the case for federal help to upgrade the Princes Highway south of Nowra.
And they have agreed to see for themselves some of the highway’s worst stretches in the New Year.
On Wednesday morning, Bay Post/Moruya Examiner and Narooma News editor Kerrie O’Connor and South Coast Register and Milton Ulladulla Times editor John Hanscombe met with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese.
The senior politicians from both sides of the political divide were briefed on Fairfax Media’s FIX IT NOW campaign.
In an unusual joint statement, both said a bipartisan approach to fixing the highway was necessary.
“This week we met with John Hanscombe and Kerrie O'Connor from the FIX IT NOW Campaign to discuss the corridor of the Princes Highway between Nowra, New South Wales and the Victorian border,” the statement read.
“A bipartisan political approach now and into the future can only help to deliver better road safety outcomes on the Princes Highway.
“One road death or one accident is one too many.
“We will work together along with our State colleagues and other levels of government to fulfil their obligations and ensure people get home to their families sooner and safer.
“We admire and thank you for your strong advocacy on this important issue.”
FIX IT NOW has grabbed the attention of key politicians since its launch in March this year.
In March, Bega MP and NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance called for a divided dual carriageway to the border and repeated this in parliament in November.
In May, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was briefed in Nowra on the campaign.
In October, NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey spent an hour-and-a-half with the editors and was presented with coverage of the campaign, including first-person accounts of loss and grief.
Ms Pavey shed a tear and said upgrading the highway should be above politics.
During a visit to the South Coast last Friday, Mr Albanese suggested a conversation be initiated to forge a bipartisan federal approach to the highway issue.
Mr Hanscombe said the meeting was hastily arranged for the last sitting week of the parliament.
“We are grateful to have had time with two important political figures at such short notice and during an extremely busy week,” he said.
“From the outset, the FIX IT NOW campaign has stressed the need for all levels of government to work together to achieve a safer highway and it is great to see this joint statement of bipartisanship on this key local issue.”
Ms O’Connor had previously called on all parties and tiers of government to “put down the cudgels and start saving lives”.
“The opportunity to share our campaign with Mr McCormack and Mr Albanese was greatly appreciated and their joint statement is just the right signpost in the journey to a safer highway.
“Now we need a federal-state funding agreement that delivers that highway.”
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