Roads package ‘an opportunity for Gippsland’

The $345 million rural and regional roads package announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is an opportunity for Gippsland to secure more roads funding in the future, according to Gippsland MHR Darren Chester.

Mr Chester, who is also the federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister, helped develop the $1.5 billion infrastructure package, which will require matching funding from the state government.

Included in that $1.5 billion package is a commitment of $345 million to be spent on safety upgrades and duplications, widening roads, new bridges and installing overtaking lanes.

“I’m proud to have delivered a funding package that will help to improve productivity on regional roads and more importantly, save lives and reduce serious injuries,” Mr Chester said.

“This is a huge win for regional Victoria and I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his support as we developed the funding package.

“It is my job to work closely with the state government, and the Gippsland community, to put forward projects for consideration in the future.

“I have a good to working relationship with the relevant state ministers and I am confident we can receive a fair share of the funding package.”

Mr Chester said he would be consulting with his state colleagues Russell Northe, Danny O’Brien, Tim Bull and Melina Bath to ensure the most appropriate Gippsland road funding priorities were presented to the state government for consideration.

“There’s been some outstanding work in the Gippsland region over the past eight years with the Princes Highway duplication, black spots roads funding and record funding for the Roads to Recovery program,” Mr Chester said.

“But, there is always more to be done, and I am looking forward to getting on with the job.”

Highlighting funding priorities for his electorate in state parliament ahead of the 2016-17 state budget later this month, Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said his electorate had been hit hard by the slashing of the roads maintenance budget by 10 per cent since the state government took office, along with the elimination of the Country Roads and Bridges program which contributed $1 million each year to rural and regional councils for roads infrastructure.

He said the final stage of the Princes Highway duplication between Traralgon and Sale was a priority.