Thursday, 9 February 2023
Rural and regional roads
Rural and regional roads
Wendy LOVELL (Northern Victoria) (17:28): (27) My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and it concerns the deplorable condition of roads in regional Victoria. The action that I seek is for the minister to convey to the Victorian public her plan to address the dangerous conditions of many roads in regional Victoria, including in my electorate of Northern Victoria Region, and I call on her to match or better the coalition’s election commitment and provide funding of at least a billion dollars a year for the next 10 years to complete the intensive road maintenance program needed to fix these dangerous roads.
Despite the repeated claims by Labor members to the contrary, it is obvious that the Andrews government has never prioritised the maintenance and safety of roads in regional Victoria. The first sign of Labor’s neglect was their decision upon winning government in 2014 to scrap the coalition’s country roads and bridges program. This successful program provided $160 million to 40 small regional councils and shires to repair and maintain their road networks. The chronic underinvestment in regional road maintenance by the Andrews Labor government over the last eight years has now led us to a point where some regional roads are recognised as some of the worst in Australia.
This lack of investment has attracted deserved criticism from regional communities, transport business groups and even high-ranking public servants. In a Weekly Times article, ‘Broken roads “frustrating”’, dated 25 January 2023, Victoria Police road policing command assistant commissioner Glenn Weir was quoted as saying officers were ‘constantly’ alerting road authorities or local councils to the parlous condition of Victoria’s road network. In the same article, chief of regional transport for the department of transport Paul Northey was quoted as saying there was a current shortfall in money available for regional road repair.
Recently I was contacted by a constituent from Nathalia complaining about the dangerous condition of the Katamatite-Nathalia Road between the townships of Numurkah and Nathalia. This road has a large pothole located just before a sweeping bend, causing some drivers to cross onto the wrong side of the road – an action that is extremely dangerous. This pothole, like so many others, has been filled several times; however, the repair only lasts a few days, as the contractor just fills it with pre-mix, which begins to break up with the first vehicle that crosses it. This practice of not repairing potholes properly has led to sections of roads in my electorate being extremely dangerous for prolonged periods. This is just one example, of many stories, and I am sure every single country member in this place would have the same experience. The government require all road users to ensure their cars are roadworthy, but unfortunately the Andrews government are not providing Victorians with roads that are roadworthy.