Lovell blasts road conditions
The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has used the first sitting week of State Parliament to blast the Andrews Labor Government on the current condition of roads in regional Victoria.
Speaking during the adjournment debate to the new Minister for Roads and Road Safety Melissa Horne, Ms Lovell described the condition of Victoria’s regional road network as “deplorable” and laid the blame squarely at the feet of Labor’s underinvestment in road maintenance over the last eight years.
“Road users must ensure their cars are roadworthy but sadly our roads are not roadworthy because of the chronic lack of funding from the Andrews Government since their election in 2014,” Ms Lovell said.
“The practice of not repairing potholes properly has led to sections of roads in my electorate being extremely dangerous and I call on the Minister to articulate her plan and provide the substantial funding required to fix regional Victoria’s deplorable road network.”
Ms Lovell said that the Andrews Government had never prioritised the maintenance and safety of regional roads, evidenced by Labor’s scrapping of the Liberal Nationals Coalition’s Country Roads and Bridges Program upon winning government in 2014.
Ms Lovell added that the poor condition of regional roads in Victoria had even caused high-ranking public servants from Victoria Police and the Department of Transport to publicly speak out.
In a Weekly Times article ‘Broken roads frustrating’ dated January 25, 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, 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”.
In mid 2022 the Nationals conducted a survey to find the worst roads in Victoria with the Murray Valley Highway (MVH) named in the top 10, coming in at number eight.
The Great Alpine Road topped the statewide poll by a significant margin, albeit that many of the complaints were expressed by Gippsland residents on the Bairnsdale side of the mountains.
The Heathcote- Nagambie Road also found itself in the top 10, taking out seventh position.
Several high-profile locals including Brian Kennan have also campaigned for many years for more funding relating to road conditions with heavy machinery driving local roads each day.
Meanwhile over the Murray, NSW councils are currently able to claim their share of a $500 million package announced by the NSW Government in January to support emergency and heavy patching of the pothole damage to roads, with the money expected to be available to councils by the end of the month.
Local Government NSW president Darriea Turley said the $2.5 billion roads damage bill caused by the disasters was additional to a backlog of $1.9 billion identified by the NRMA in its 2020-21 Fix Our Broken Roads Report.
Ms Lovell concluded by calling on Minister Horne to unveil her plan to fix Victoria’s regional roads and match or better the Coalition’s election commitment of at least $1 billion a year for the next ten years to complete the intensive maintenance program required.