The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says a Victorian government announcement of “a road maintenance blitz” could not be “more overdue and more disappointing”.
Mr Walsh says if the government’s idea of a maintenance blitz is the four years it has taken to announce the deadly Appin South turnoff on the Loddon Highway, “we are in for another long wait”.
He says all the Allan Labor government has done is generate a few headlines for itself and it will then hope the issue drops off people’s radar for as long as possible.
“Twelve months down the track and the government is finally acknowledging what we have been saying since floods hit northern Victoria in October 2022 – country roads have suffered the most damage, bearing the brunt of heavy rain and flooding during the past year,” Mr Walsh says.
“As for its latest claims – that it will now sink $6.6 billion into roads maintenance and ‘future proofing’ local roads – well, I would be fascinated to know where that money is coming from, or if it will ever arrive,” he added. “It will be like promising regional Victoria the Commonwealth Games – before an election – and then when that was all over, announcing the government would save us a fortune by cancelling them.
“This Premier was the Minister responsible for the Games, just as she has been the person with her hand on the helm of the disastrous Big Build, which she has managed to botch completely to deliver us instead the Big Bill, billions and billions of dollars overbudget.”
Mr Walsh says rather than a blitz, we need a clearly defined strategy, with a timeline and some sort of transparent accountability to ensure the public can see how much money arrives – and where it goes.
He says the government claims its most recent 12-month blitz included 370,000 potholes being patched and 21,000 signs repaired or replaced.
“But really, with numbers this big does anyone know what has actually been started and completed?” Mr Walsh asked.
“What I do know is everywhere I go in regional Victoria I have to bounce from road to road and town to town, and every time I stop, I have constituents wanting to tell me about their local potholes and deteriorating roads,” he says.
“Regional Victoria doesn’t want a blitz, it wants results, long-term results. And we want road maintenance, road widening and passing lanes. And we wanted it years ago, not potentially starting year.”