Roads | June 21, 2021
Funding cuts and spin is Labor’s approach to rural roads
Despite rural motorists still driving on roads full of potholes and crumbling surfaces, Roads Minister Ben Carroll was glowing in his self-praise for the work the Andrews Labor Government is apparently doing to fix rural roads in Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings last week.
Despite repeated claims by this inner city-based Minister that Labor was making significant improvements to rural and regional roads and investing more money, budget papers show in black and white that road asset maintenance funding is down from $823 million in 2020/21 to $616 million in 2021/22, a cut of 25%.
The budget papers also show that standards for road surface roughness and cracking have been lowered year-on-year, meaning Labor isn’t aiming for further improvements in these key areas. When asked why, the Minister couldn’t answer and passed it to a bureaucrat.
The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy said that while the Minister and his department can spin all they want, when it comes to regional roads, Labor is all about cuts.
“The Minister can say the Andrews Labor Government is improving roads till he’s blue in the face – but regional motorists know it’s simply not true,” Ms Kealy said.
“Labor has been in government for 17 of the past 20 years and during that time they have continued to cut the road maintenance budget which has directly led to a huge deterioration in the condition of our regional roads.
“All we are seeing from Labor is band-aid repairs that fail after a few months.
“And now they are moving to reduce the speed limit on some of our major highways to 80km/h, like the Wimmera Highway at Vectis, rather than spending the money required to fix the problem.
“It is astounding that the Minister can be so glowing in his praise of the work being done to fix regional roads – because from my own experience driving around Lowan and the reports I get from regional motorists, our roads have never been in worse condition.”
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