Country roads budget slashed under Labor
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Country roads budget slashed under Labor

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, inspects a damaged section of road near Cobungra with Bruce Strong from VicRoads.

East Gippslanders will see a big reduction in road works and will be dodging more pot holes than ever on their local roads because Daniel Andrews has ripped $375 million out of the rural roads budget.

Labor has scrapped the very popular $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program that provided $1 million per year to all Victoria’s rural councils, including East Gippsland and Wellington, to assist with their required road and bridge works.

It is also significantly reducing money from other rural road maintenance funds, diverting it to metropolitan Melbourne.

After a question in Parliament today on the funding, Roads Minister, Luke Donnellan tried to re-write history saying funding for Country Roads and Bridges had expired rather than it being cut by Labor.

“The cold hard fact is the program is funded in the Budget until June 30 this year and the Liberal-Nationals Coalition had committed to funding it for another four years.

“This answer clearly shows that Labor will not be renewing this very popular funding program, which from my time as Minister for Local Government, I know was very popular with all rural councils.

“If you drive through East Gippsland at the moment, the amount of road works going on is significant. We came to office with a lot to do in relation to roads and there remains a lot to do, but the job was well underway.

There are major works currently underway between Lakes Entrance and Orbost and also between Orbost and Cann River and we have seen significant funds spent on the Great Alpine Road and Omeo Highway, as well as major intersection upgrades.

“The Country Roads and Bridges Program meant country Victorians had better and safer roads to travel and at the same time it freed up council funds to spend on other important community programs and infrastructure,” Mr Bull said.

“Last year the Coalition Government’s total investment on roads maintenance was over $500 million. This compares to Daniel Andrews’ plan to invest $1 billion over eight years into regional roads – which is just $125 million a year.

“So the Andrews Labor Government has actually cut the roads budget by $375 million a year,” which is very disappointing.

“The Minister can start to bridge this funding shortfall by again committing to the Country Roads and Bridges Program,” Mr Bull said.