Roads | June 02, 2023

Western Highway duplication on the skids

Duplication of the Western Highway between Ararat and Stawell has been halted pending the completion of a Federal Labor Government infrastructure review, with fears the outcome could lead to even more cuts to road projects across Victoria.

Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said the state’s roads were a mess, with all Victorians suffering due to Labor’s financial incompetence.

“The Andrews Labor Government needs to explain its decision to cut $380 million in annual spending on road maintenance since 2020 – a massive 45 per cent cut.

“The Premier also needs to explain how Labor has allowed the Federal Labor Government to cut road funding by close to $1.3 billion for Victoria, significantly more than the cuts suffered by other states.

“What we are seeing under the Federal and State Labor governments is an alarming trend of funding cuts, with all Victorians being punished for the Andrews Labor Governments financial incompetence.”

The Western Highway is the major road link between Melbourne and Adelaide, with more than 6000 vehicles – including 1500 trucks – travelling on the highway each day. That number is expected to double in the next three years.

“Duplication of the Western Highway commenced in 2013 and was supposed to be finished by 2016, but almost 10 years later we have only 55 kilometres of the 103-km section of highway duplicated, with no work occurring for the past three years.

“During this period there have been 163 crashes on this section of the highway, including 18 fatalities and 90 people seriously injured.

“In the lead up to last year’s election I was proud to announce a Liberal Nationals commitment to providing the $90 million required to complete the duplication of the Western Highway, with construction of the Ararat to Stawell section be completed by the end of 2025.

“The Andrews Labor Government has had every opportunity to provide the funding required to get this project moving but has done nothing.

“In the meantime, the condition of the existing highway has become increasingly dire, with many sections littered with potholes, and permanent speed reductions in place in some areas because the surface is so dangerous.

“I am proud to be a part of a Liberal Nationals team that is committed to completing this vital and urgently needed project and we will not rest until the project is completed to ensure the safety of all road users.”

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