CAMPAIGNERS pushing for a roundabout to be installed at Bathurst’s worst intersection have a new target in their sights: Calare MP Andrew Gee.
Mr Gee, the former state Member for Orange, is coming under increasing pressure to explain why federal funding has been made for two new roundabouts in Orange while Bathurst Regional Council has been left waiting to learn if black spot funding would be provided to help fund a roundabout at the intersection of Mitre, Lambert and Suttor streets.
Council voted almost 12 months ago to put aside money in the 2017-18 budget to fund half the cost of roundabout, hoping federal money would be made available for the other half.
Council is still waiting for an answer but, in the meantime, Mr Gee has trumpeted the opening of two new Orange roundabouts that have been fully funded by federal money.
Bathurst councillor Alex Christian (pictured with Dianne and Kent McNab) took to Facebook to slam the spending in Orange, telling Bathurst ratepayers they were being ignored.
He later told the Western Advocate it was time for roundabout supporters to start directing their anger towards Mr Gee.
He said it should not be left up to West Bathurst residents Kent and Dianne McNab – who have led the public campaign for a roundabout and collected a petition of more than 5000 signatures – to do all the work.
“I would like to know why it is two senior citizens of Bathurst seem to be working harder on this project than the federal member,” Cr Christian said.
Cr Christian seized on Mrs McNab’s address to last week’s council meeting where she said the 5000 signatures on their petition represented about 17 per cent of eligible voters in the Bathurst region.
“If the Nationals believe they can ignore the wishes of 17 per cent of their constituents then good luck to them,” he said.
“It’s got to the stage where there’s been heaps of talk and the McNabs have done more than anyone could have expected of them, but as a councillor I’m getting sick of waiting.
“Would Mr Gee rather be standing here with us and smiling for a photo to say the black spot funding has been approved or be known as the low energy member that ignores 5000 of his constituents?”
By Mr Gee hit back, saying the roundabout was not an issue for political “point scoring”.
“I have been working with Kent and Dianne for many months to not only get the application for black spot funding lodged but also to support and lobby for it as it passes through the various tiers of government,” he said.
“This has included raising it with the NSW Roads Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
“It’s great that council has recently set aside money to fund the work if the application doesn’t succeed but I don’t think any councillors should be playing politics with the issue, especially when you consider that it is a council road and responsibility and the need for it was identified 20 years ago.
“All representatives should be constructively focused on getting the application approved rather than point scoring.
“The applications are being assessed and hopefully we’ll have a positive result.”
Clarification: An earlier version of this article called Cr Christian a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. Cr Christian was a member of the SFF when he contested the Bathurst Regional Council election last September but said he had not been a member of the party since November.