A re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will continue to invest $1 million a year, every year, to fix local roads and bridges in the East Gippsland and Wellington Shires, State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said today.
Mr Bull welcomed the Coalition Government’s announcement that it had re-committed to the successful $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program for a further four years, providing much needed financial assistance to local councils.
Mr Bull said it was very concerning the Labor Party had confirmed it would scrap this important investment.
“I know this program is very well received by local councils and I have had calls from both Wellington and East Gippsland Shires to have this funding continued. In fact Wellington Shire Mayor Scott Rossetti raised it with me just this week, so it is a pleasure the announcement has been made today.
“Under the program, both councils will receive $1 million a year over the next four years to fund vital road and bridge repairs and replacements on local shire roads.
“This program not only helps fix local roads, but puts downward pressure on rates.
“Maintaining local roads is one of the largest cost burdens on local government, so to have this program invest an additional $1 million a year is providing a major boost to rural councils.
“This additional $1 million a year goes directly into local roads and bridges, funding reseals, pothole repairs, bridge improvements or replacements and other important repair and maintenance work.
“This investment means Councils have an additional $1 million a year in their budgets, meaning they can spend more on other local roads or invest in other projects.
“It also means locals councils don’t have to continuously go back to ratepayers to pay for vital local road improvements, which is helping to keep rates lower for property owners, farmers and businesses.”
Over the past four years, the Country Roads and Bridges Program has funded important roads projects including Boisdale-Newry Road improvements, Basin Creek Bridge north of Buchan and Shady Creek Bridge to name just a couple.
Municipal Association of Victoria President, Cr Bill McArthur, welcomed the continued funding support.
“The Country Roads and Bridges Program is invaluable, delivering maintenance and restoration projects,” Cr McArthur said.
“With councils responsible for 85 per cent of the state’s road network, road funding is the single largest expense for rural shires, so the $40 million of funding is vital.
Mr Bull said this funding would be at risk under a Daniel Andrews-led Labor Government who plan to scrap the Country Roads and Bridges Program to fund union-led city centric projects such as level crossing removals in Labor-held seats.
“Labor’s plan will see country roads go backwards and will force councils to raise rates or cut vital local services.
“This cutback is on top of Labor’s plan to slash the roads maintenance budget for VicRoads roads from more than $500 million a year, to a paltry $125 million a year, consigning country roads to nothing more than goat tracks.
“It is further proof that Daniel Andrews and his Labor comrades simply don’t get it, they don’t understand country communities and will send us spiralling backwards.
“Regional and rural Victoria can’t afford four years of Labor.”