I wish to update the House on one of the holy grails of unfinished road projects in Central Western New South Wales. I speak, of course, of the crossing at Dixons Long Point, a project communities have been pushing for for almost 100 years. The crossing and the road to Dixons Long Point are the direct route between Orange and Mudgee, two great regional centres. At the moment, to get from Orange to Mudgee or Mudgee to Orange, it takes about two hours and 20 minutes, but if we could open up that road and implement a crossing at Dixons Long Point the travel time between these two great regional centres would be drastically reduced.
The problem is that there is currently no crossing there at all. Most of the road is dirt, and in order to get across the Macquarie River you literally have to drive through it. There have been many recent examples of four-wheel drivers coming to grief on that crossing, including one memorable one recently where the four-wheel drive literally started to float upriver when it came off the side of the crossing.
Last year the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, drove the Dixons Long Point road, including the crossing. He was the first minister ever to visit Dixons Long Point.
During the last federal election campaign the Liberals and Nationals committed $100,000 for a feasibility study. The New South Wales government also matched that funding with $100,000, which was something I was pushing for when I was the state member for Orange. Now, with that funding, Cabonne Council is carrying out a feasibility study and the costings for options, not only to implement the crossing but also to improve the approaches as well, which are obviously very hazardous.
I recently wrote to Cabonne Council—just days ago. They are doing excellent work, and I am very appreciative of their assistance. I wrote to them and asked them to speed up those costings and the feasibility, because the communities of the Central West, of Mudgee and Orange, have been waiting 100 years for this project to get moving. We want to get it cracking, because there are a lot of doomsayers and naysayers who are saying it will never happen.
Sir Charles Cutler, the former Deputy Premier of New South Wales and former member for Orange, was one of the earliest advocates for this project. The communities have been waiting too long. It will link Orange and Mudgee, opening up the Central West for tourism and industry. Orange and Mudgee are both great mining centres and are both wine-producing areas of international renown. It will open up the region for business and also for medical services. We need to get this project cracking, because 100 years is too long. I am very grateful for the support of Minister Chester and also Cabonne Council. (Time expired)