NSW Minister for Roads, Melinda Pavey giving the go-ahead to the Transport Management Centre in Sydney to switch on the new electronic speed limit signs for the first time on the Woolgoolga-Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade. The Minister is pictured with Clarence MP, Chris Gulaptis and General Manager Pacific Highway, Bob Higgins.
NSW Minister for Roads, Melinda Pavey giving the go-ahead to the Transport Management Centre in Sydney to switch on the new electronic speed limit signs for the first time on the Woolgoolga-Ballina section of the Pacific Highway upgrade. The Minister is pictured with Clarence MP, Chris Gulaptis and General Manager Pacific Highway, Bob Higgins.

HIGHWAY TO HELL: No end in sight for unpaid subcontractors

THE Pacific Highway upgrade consisting of dual carriageway from Hexham to the Queensland border - essentually completing a 960km continuous stretch between Sydney and Brisbane - was first commissioned in 1996.

It petered along in coughs and splutters as various governments saw fit. Then from August 2014 the third and final stage in the project - the 155km Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade - has charged ahead unabated, with 2020 still touted as the expected completion date.

The past few years we've witnessed an all too rare example of a government digging in and getting the job done.

We're in the midst of watching an engineering marvel materialise before our eyes across the Clarence River at Harwood - from all reports ahead of schedule.

Every few months a new section of highway opens; another fantastic photo opportunity for NSW Government figureheads to soak up all the credit.

No doubt they will sing to the rooftops about the overwhelming success and impressive pace of the upgrade's latter stages when it's all complete.

But who takes the fall when something doesn't go to plan? Those same ministers are not so eager to come to the party.

In the wake of the Ostwald Bros collapse, 23 subcontractors - many family-owned Clarence Valley businesses employing local people - are left out of pocket because the system in place failed them.

VIDEO: Unpaid workers demand answers

The end might be in sight for the project itself. But for many of those subcontractors it's a highway to hell with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Until a solution is delivered to recover the losses and livelihoods for these victims, their fate will hang over the head of NSW Roads minister Melinda Pavey long after the highway workers have packed up and gone home.


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