Stratford rail bridge should be in Budget
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Stratford rail bridge should be in Budget

Funds to replace the rail bridge at Stratford should be part of this year’s May Budget announcements, Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has said.

“In our final year of Government in 2014, Gippsland MPs were involved in discussions with V/Line representatives on various matters and the rail bridge at Stratford was a key part of those discussions,” Mr Bull said.

“We were briefed on plans that were being finalised for a replacement bridge that could be largely constructed off-site and then put into place over a period of just months, causing what would be relatively short-term disruptions to services, for what would be a major piece of infrastructure work. In line with this, costings were also being finalised.

“Given it was well and truly a priority on V/Line’s to do list, I would assume these plans were completed last year and it is for this reason I am expecting an announcement in the Budget.

“To date we have had no infrastructure spend of any note in East Gippsland and I would like to think we will get some joy in the Budget. I have written to the Minister in relation to the bridge.”

Mr Bull said among other key projects he was hoping would be funded, included:

• Stage two of the Bairnsdale Secondary College after the Coalition funded $10.5 million for stage one (now built) and committed $12.5m to stage two pre-election; and
• The next stage of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) upgrade.

“The Coalition funded $16 million for Stage One of the MID and committed further funds pre-election. Labor has said its funding of the next stage is dependent on the sale of the Port of Melbourne lease.

“Gippsland South MP, Danny O’Brien, and I have been calling on future funding to be unconditional; pointing out it should not be related to the port lease sale in any way.

“However, with us seemingly moving closer to a port deal this week after Labor agreed to our demand to get rid of this ridiculous compensation clause that would have been a financial noose around the neck of our children at some stage in the future – I think we are closer to getting the funding announced,” Mr Bull said.

“The Budget has taken on far more significance under this government. When we had the Regional Growth Fund in place, most of the infrastructure announcements were made outside the Budget process under this program. With it having been abolished we now have an increased focus on what happens on that big day in May,” he said.