A pathetic response on highway duplication

The Kilmany overpass is due to be replaced as part of the Princes Highway duplication.
The Kilmany overpass is due to be replaced as part of the Princes Highway duplication.

GIPPSLAND MHR Darren Chester has again vowed he will continue to push to have the entire $132 million in federal Princes Highway duplication funding allocated to the most dangerous section at the Kilmany overpass to get work moving again.

The clearly angry MP has come out swinging, saying "we can't wait for Premier Andrews to find Gippsland on a map".

"I will be urging the federal government to release all its funding for the Kilmany project and at least get one stage completed as soon as possible," he said.

Mr Chester has accused the state government of insulting Gippslanders with a "pathetic response" to requests to finish the Princes Highway duplication projects between Traralgon and Sale.

He said the federal government had committed $132 million to duplicate the remaining sections of the highway, but the state government had refused to provide $33 million to finish the job.

"The pathetic response I've received from the Transport Minister on behalf of the Premier is insulting to Gippslanders and offers no assurance that the road will be fully duplicated," Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester said he had written to the Premier four times since January this year on behalf of Gippslanders who wanted the road finished - but he had not even acknowledged the correspondence.

"Now I receive a letter from his minister saying 'the exact timing and funding for the project delivery phase will be announced in due course'.

"It's just another example of Gippslanders being treated with contempt by a Premier who hasn't driven past Traralgon in 12 months."

Mr Chester said Mr Andrews "couldn't be bothered visiting drought-hit Gippsland families" and his failure to fund the Princes Highway duplication demonstrated he "couldn't care less about road safety, improved productivity or boosting the visitor economy of Gippsland".

He said Gippslanders had run out of patience and couldn't afford to wait for the 'due course' to get work started on the final two stages of the highway duplication.

In her response, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said the Premier had referred the issue to her for response, as the it fell within her portfolio, and apologised for the two month delay in responding.

"Stages 1 and 2 of the Princes Highway East duplication between Traralgon and Sale have been completed, resulting in safer and smoother journeys," she wrote.

"The Victorian government has committed $3 million for planning and pre-construction works for Stage 3, which will take in Flynn and Kilmany.

"The exact timing and funding for the project delivery phase will be announced in due course."

The minister noted Mr Chester's support of the Macalister Irrigation District modernisation project, but said the issue fell within the portfolio of Water Minister Lisa Neville.

"I trust this information is of use," she concluded.

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