The fight has resumed to stop the current speed limits between Walcha and Wauchope on the Oxley Highway from being reduced.
Ken Healey, the driver behind the Save the Oxley protest group, says Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) had brought forward a meeting planned for Thursday to today to allow Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight to attend.
He said he believed the RMS was going to announce the implementation of an 80km speed zone five kilometres either side of Gingers Creek. A stretch of road which is currently zoned 100km per hour.
When asked if he thought Ms Pavey was in favour of the new speed zones he said he wasn’t sure.
“When she was the Member for Oxley and came to our first meeting in 2016 she agreed with us,” Mr Healey said. “But now she is the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight I am not sure.”
Mr Healey also believed the RMS would be willing to compromise and possibly agree to make the new speed zone 90km per hour.
“I asked the RMS if it was going to be an announcement or if we could have input and they said it was a meeting where we would have input and discussion,” he said.
“They give you very little time to organise people, but we have managed to get Port Macquarie mayor Peta Pinson to agree to come along, and she is against the changes because it will impact local business when motorcycle and car group tourism drops. It is going to affect the local economies of Wauchope, Port Macquarie and Walcha.”
Walcha Council is against any change to the speed limits and has sent its director of engineering Dylan Reeves to the meeting.
“We just think the changes are unnecessary,” said Walcha Council general manager Jack O’Hara.
On Friday a spokesperson for the RMS confirmed the meeting today was to discuss the speed zone changes but declined to give any further details about what was being proposed. Kevin Anderson’s office said his schedule was full and he would be unable to attend the meeting. Melinda Pavey was unavailable for comment.
Widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s best climbs, the 160 kilometres of highway from Wauchope to Walcha is a draw for motorcycle and motoring enthusiasts the year round.
A route safety review of the highway was conducted in November 2013 which led to a raft of recommendations.