HOPES of meeting the government's 2016 deadline for completing the Pacific Highway upgrade have received a small boost after Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott offered bipartisan support to finishing the project "as quickly possible".
Both the Federal and State governments have committed to completing the upgrade, which would create a dual carriage motorway running from Hexam to the Queensland border, by 2016.
However, with only four years left before 2016 and nearly half the highway still to be upgraded, and about $6 billion in work yet to appear in the State and Federal budgets, there have been concerns the deadline could be unachievable.
Mr Abbott's statement stopped short of committing to 2016, but he said recent fatalities on the road emphasised the need to get upgrade done quickly.
Two people died yesterday when a car crashed into a tree near Kew, south of Port Macquarie.
On Sunday morning, an 11-year-old boy died at Urunga when a banana truck crashed into his bedroom after hitting a ute, killing the ute's driver.
"It just goes to show how important it is that we duplicate the highway as quickly as possible," AAP quoted Mr Abbott saying.
"I'm very happy to be bipartisan about finishing the Pacific Highway as quickly as possible.
"But I've got to say to the government in all candour that it would be so much easier to do this if they weren't wasting money on the greatest white elephant this country has ever seen - the national broadband network."