VICTORIAN road funding has been defended by Roads Minister Luke Donnellan, with a commitment that the State Government “won’t stop investing” to keep drivers safe.
Following a report by The Weekly Times into the state of Victoria’s roads, which showed the poor condition of the network across Victoria, Mr Donnellan agreed there was room for improvement.
“We know we can always do more, which is why we won’t stop investing in the roads Victorians rely on,” Mr Donnellan wrote in an opinion piece for today’s The Weekly Times.
Mr Donnellan said the Government had already committed to fix more than 1400km of roads “about the distance between Mallacoota and Maryborough, four times over” this year, spending more than $340 million.
The Victorian Farmers Federation believes it could take “billions of dollars over multiple years to bring the roads up to scratch”.
VFF grains president Ross Johns said the VFF had received several messages of support following its call for “roadworthy roads” across the state.
“Agricultural production is extremely important to the Australian economy yet we have roads in such poor condition agriculture can’t reach its full potential,” Mr Johns said this week.
Melbourne industrial relations solicitor Alan McDonald, responded to The Weekly Times by saying: “The State Government’s failure to maintain safe roads is inexcusable”.
Mr McDonald, from McDonald Murholme Solicitors, said transport operators had a duty of care to ensure employees were safe.
“They simply cannot do so with the current state of rural roads, and it is leaving companies exposed to workplace injuries,” Mr McDonald said.
“You wouldn’t send a worker into an unsafe factory, so why would you send them on to an unsafe road.”
It comes as a new AgriFutures Australia report, released yesterday, found “the current way new rural and regional roads and upgrades are evaluated and prioritised does not adequately capture the real value of agricultural use”.
Principal researcher, University of New England’s Professor Derek Baker, said the study showed “substantial market benefits to be gained form rural road upgrades”.
“For example, simple logistics like getting a product to market on a sealed road versus unsealed could mean the difference between taking advantage of export opportunities and premium prices,” Mr Baker said.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Coalition promised to put a halt to the current roll-out of wire rope barriers if elected at the November state poll.
The Coalition said it supports “properly installed wire rope barriers”, but had concerns about the safety of motorcyclists, drivers having nowhere to safely pull over in the event of a break down, and increased risk of bushfire from vegetation growing underneath the barriers.
“That’s why the Liberal Nationals policy is to suspend the current installation of the wire rope program and instead use that money to repair these roads so they are safer for all Victorians,” opposition roads spokesman David Hodgett said.
Reference: Victorian roads funding defended by Minister, The Weekly Times, Wednesday 21st February 2018