Council happy to be surprised

ALBURY Council was pleasantly surprised by the commitment from NSW Premier Mike Baird about an upgrade of the Riverina Highway near Lake Hume.

Mayor Kevin Mack yesterday said he had no knowledge Mr Baird would give an under-taking the project would start next year.

“My understanding is Greg Aplin is currently speaking with the roads minister,” Cr Mack said.

“A decision will be made in the near future, but we have no detail in relation to anything else.

“We didn’t realise the Premier would be saying it was a possibility in the near future.”

The section earmarked for the upgrade is between Albury and Bethanga Bridge.

Mr Baird distanced himself from reports $5 million had been set aside for the Riverina Highway works before returning to Sydney.

“The costings aren’t finalised,” he said.

“It will be what (Roads Minister) Duncan Gay is announcing and what is stage one to get on with this project.

“We have made a commitment to starting stage one next year and the roads minister will be bringing down the details of that.”

Former Labor Party candidate Darren Cameron said no clear assurances had been given.

“All the Premier has done is come to town and given vague, unfunded promises,” Cr Cameron said.

“There is talk of $5 million for the Riverina Highway. But it is not clear if this is new money or already exists in the budget.”

Mr Baird visited the Seeley International factory in Albury yesterday to inspect a $500,000 investment in a tube bending facility.

He said manufacturers like Seeley were showing great resilience.

“What we see here, through hard work, innovation and a great bit of grit, is a company getting on with the job and producing a great service for this community and state,” he said.

Cr Mack welcomed the late change of heart for mayors to meet with Mr Baird.