Touring the Princes Highway on Tuesday, Liberal candidate for Gilmore Warren Mundine says it must be upgraded to the same standard as the Pacific Highway.
Standing at the site of the 2017 Boxing Day crash near Bendalong, which claimed the lives of the Falkholt family and an Ulladulla man, a tearful Mr Mundine said fixing the highway south of Nowra should be a national priority.
“You see the loss of that entire family, it really is very emotional,” he said. “Something has to be done about this. It’s tragic that it had to take the loss of that family to really put a focus on this highway.”
Mr Mundine joined South Coast Register editor John Hanscombe for a trip from Nowra to Lemon Tree Creek just south of Lake Tabourie, also the scene of a multiple fatality. He stopped at Condies Creek Bridge and the southern extremity of Wandandian where roadside memorials mark the spots young people have died in crashes.
Visibly moved, he spoke about the impacts of road trauma on small communities.
“Up north, on a similar road like this I had two cousins who when they took a turn, they lost the car, it slid across and then it hit a tree and it burst into flames and they were incinerated.
“The pain and suffering for families, especially in small communities, it really affects that community.”
He said seeing the black spots up close drove home the urgency of fixing the highway, “all the way from the southern suburbs of Sydney to the border, to make it safe for holiday makers and safe for the people who live here”.
“We’ve got to fight for this stuff. It’s common sense, it’s logical, there’s no argument. Sure, people can argue about money and all that stuff but at the end of the day we can always find money, we can always make priorities and we can always focus on things.”
At the stop at the Condies Creek bridge, Mr Mundine was stunned at the width of the crossing. “I haven’t seen a bridge like that for quite a while. It’s so skinny. How do you get trucks passing each other? It’s totally beyond me,” he said.
He said he had held discussions with Kiama MP Gareth Ward over the highway and would take the issue to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“There’s a lot of lessons we can learn off the Pacific Highway and focus on what we can do here now for the Princes Highway.”
Mr Mundine said while safety was the primary driver for improving the highway, there were economic and job creations that came with the infrastructure investment.