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Road woes

CRUMBLING roads in South Gippsland have been brought to the attention of The Nationals.

The negative impact poor roads are having on the region’s agriculture was highlighted when Peter Walsh, Shadow Agriculture and Water Minister and Leader of the National, toured South Gippsland.

Mr Walsh, who was joined by Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien and Nationals’ Eastern Victoria Region MLC Melina Bath, said drivers would soon start to see the effects of Labor’s road funding cuts.

“Labor has cut 10 per cent from the roads maintenance budget and its promise to deliver $1 billion over eight years to improve the condition of roads in regional areas like South Gippsland was left unfunded in the state budget, which means local roads will start to rapidly deteriorate as we head into winter,” Mr Walsh said.

“The hilly landscape and the area’s high rainfall in conjunction with Labor’s cuts to road funding will spell disaster for this region.

“The roads may deteriorate over winter and come summer there won’t be any money for the necessary works to take place.”

Mr O’Brien said in addition to cutting 10 per cent from the roads budget, Labor had axed the Coalition’s successful $160 million Country Roads and Bridges program, which delivered $1 million per year to council like South Gippsland to enable them to complete road works.

“Considering the population in South Gippsland, the roads are not up to scratch,” he said.

“We’ve heard of a pothole in South Gippsland which has had to be fixed 30 times. Roads are the number one issue in my electorate and it has caused a lot of frustration.”

While in South Gippsland, Mr Walsh, Mr O’Brien and Ms Bath also visited Select Produce’s Korumburra factory, which processes locally grown snow peas and sugar snaps, and Moyarra sheep cheese producer Prom Country Cheese.

Mr Walsh said South Gippsland’s agriculture sector was a large contributor to the Victorian economy and producers needed to be able to rely on safe, well maintained roads to get their product to consumers.

“Select Produce is a big local employer in Korumburra and to ensure they can continue to employ local people and operate from South Gippsland, the infrastructure needs to be on par with the rest of the state,” Mr Walsh said.

“Labor’s cuts are doing nothing to help farmers get their product to the Melbourne vegetable market or factories like Select Produce or Murray Goulburn.”

Mr O’Brien said Labor’s Roads Minister had been on record while in Opposition as highlighting the need for immediate funding for South Gippsland roads to ensure the best possible infrastructure for local industries and motorists.

“It is very disappointing Labor is now cutting funding and walking away from its own promise,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The Nationals in the Coalition Government were serious about creating infrastructure and roads that made it easier for South Gippsland’s primary producers to get their product to the market or factory and increased the annual roads budget to more than $500 million.

“In addition, we delivered funding for the Leongatha Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route, which will improve transport efficiency by redirecting trucks away from the central business district, and improve safety and amenity for shoppers and small business operators.”

A spokesperson for Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the State Government understands the importance of improving roads and had committed an extra $80 million in the 2015-16 budget under the road surface replacement program.

“This funding will see the South Gippsland Highway, Strzelecki Highway and Hyland Highway undergo surfacing projects. VicRoads is continuing to work to identify the order of priority of these works,” the spokesperson said.

“The government has also allocated $90 million to improve performance across the Victorian road network which includes a regional roads component.”

Under scrutiny: from left, Shadow Agriculture and Water Minister and Leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh, Nationals’ Eastern Victoria Region MLC Melina Bath and Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien are appalled by the state of South Gippsland’s road and will strive to see them fixed.

Under scrutiny: from left, Shadow Agriculture and Water Minister and Leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh, Nationals’ Eastern Victoria Region MLC Melina Bath and Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien are appalled by the state of South Gippsland’s road and will strive to see them fixed.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=15351

Posted by on Jun 30 2015. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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