East Gippslanders rest easy, your road concerns are simply ‘imagined fantasy’
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East Gippslanders rest easy, your road concerns are simply ‘imagined fantasy’

Last week in Parliament the Labor Member for Eltham said the complaints raised by National Party MP’s in relation to country roads are “imagined fantasy”.
These are your complaints that are raised by me on your behalf.
What was the basis for her telling Parliament this I hear you all asking? Well it was a text message.
The member for Eltham quoted a text message from a relation who drove a return trip from Traralgon to Healesville, saying the roads were “very good”, adding “I do not know why the Nationals complain” (about country roads).
She then went on to say our concerns about the roads were “imagined fantasy”.
There you go East Gippslanders. The emails, messages and visits to my office from hundreds of you complaining about the Princes Highway, Bonang Highway, Monaro Highway, Paynesville Road, Bengworden Road, Marlo Road, Mallacoota Road, Great Alpine Road and many others – are just “imagined fantasy” according to the Labor Member for Eltham.
If that wasn’t enough, she went on to say this text was from “lived, real life experience”. Is she inferring the owners of the six vehicles that suffered rim damage last weekend on the Princes Highway from hitting pot holes – was not “lived, real life experience”.
Unfortunately we have also had some very serious accidents where broken road surface and pot holes were contributing factors.
This MP is using a text message from a family member to refute the comments from truckies and bus drivers who have driven these roads for 20 plus years and say they are the worst they have ever been, are just “imagined fantasy” and not “lived, real life experiences”?
Interestingly, the sender of the text who made mention of the National Party did not drive through a National Party seat in making the observation about roads in National Party electorates, but never mind that.
The complaints and issues I take to Parliament are from the messages you have sent my office, the calls you have made, from the comments you give me in the street. I know you are not making these things up, as I drive the roads too.
I also know road conditions have been by far the biggest area of complaint through my office over recent years.
This is typical of the sort of commentary we get from city-based MP’s who think they can quote a single text message that suits them and claim they are an authority because the text was a “lived, real life experience”.
In a separate formal response I received from the Minister the week before, the cause of all of this was apparently a wetter summer than is normally experienced. Unlike his colleague, at least he conceded the roads were exceptionally poor.
While the rain has contributed no doubt, there are two major reasons this is not an acceptable answer.
The first is the roads were falling apart well before the wet 2021 year and the second is that our roads need to be able to handle wet conditions.
In addition, roads in other rural areas of the state that have not had high rainfall are also falling apart. What’s their excuse in Euroa, or Horsham, it can’t be rain in those places.
Rather than rain, I think it has more to do with Labor’s own 2021/22 State Budget papers showing a massive $207 million (23.6%) cut to the Road Asset Maintenance Budget and a $375m (40%) cut to the Transport Infrastructure Budget.
You cannot do this without there being impacts and this is what we are seeing.
One point I will add, is if it was forecast to be a wetter than normal period in East Gippsland – which it was – you would think table drain maintenance would be at the top of the list in preparation, to allow the water to get away from roadsides.
However, poorly maintained table drains are one of the major issues. Road contract workers tell me this themselves. They are rarely cleared and clogged with debris that stops the water reaching culverts, so it flows over the road instead.
Roads do fail from time to time and need urgent repairs. This will always happen, but we are seeing this happening more than ever. To infer our first-hand experiences are not “real life” and our concerns are “fantasy” is simply disrespectful of a city based MP who is part of a city-centric government.

11 April 2022