The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said a new report has confirmed what The Nationals have been saying for years – Victoria’s statewide road network is a disgrace and makes a mockery of Roads Minister Ben Carroll’s claims our road network is now ‘safer and smoother’.
Mr Walsh said Infrastructure Australia’s Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report zeroed in on an urgent need to invest more into our state’s neglected and crumbling roads.
He said the report showed beyond doubt our road programs are suffering from a “profound lack” of adequate investment in maintenance, which is hampering the freight transport supply chain, with the network in some regions “not designed to support larger freight traffic”.
“Even worse, while we watch our transport network decaying, regional communities are also missing out on the benefits of increased post-Covid tourism and population growth – simply because the country network isn’t up to scratch,” Mr Walsh explained.
“Any way you look at it, this report should be seen as the blueprint for better connecting communities across the state, defining specific issues in key regions across regional Victoria, such as parts of Victoria including Campaspe, Barwon-South West, Gippsland, Loddon Mallee, Hume and the Grampians,” he added.
“The neglect of the rail freight network by the Andrews Labor Government is forcing more truck movements onto local roads, as if they didn’t have enough problems without so much more heavy traffic; which are already at the cost of commuter safety.
“Regional Victorians are rightly fed up with the state of our roads. Dodging potholes and crumbling road shoulders, while facing oncoming B-Doubles, is a serious safety concern for motorists and truckies alike.”
Mr Walsh said in some regions, and Loddon Mallee is a classic, economic growth and agricultural productivity is being held back because the Labor Government has badly botched freight rail upgrades.
He said the Murray Basin Rail Project should have been completed years ago and taken thousands of truck movements off our roads each year.
“Instead, under Labor, the project is stalled and over-budget – and doesn’t that sound so sadly familiar with this government and its big-ticket projects and responsibilities – with producers and transport stakeholders saying they’re worse off than when the project started,” Mr Walsh added.
“Labor MPs need to get out of Melbourne and see the impact their funding cuts are having on the state’s road network,” he said.
Mr Walsh said while the Andrews Labor Government was throwing billions into Melbourne project cost over runs, the regional road network was crumbling.
“Labor’s abysmal project management and budget blowouts have seen its overruns soar beyond $3 billion of taxpayer money – and counting – on the West Gate Tunnel alone. And it’s nowhere near finished,” he said.
“Fixing and improving regional roads is essential to creating safer and faster connections between families, primary producers, businesses and communities.
“Only a Liberal and Nationals government will shift the focus to our whole state; with a positive plan to recover and rebuild Victoria.”