Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says he’s ‘given up’ on the State Government paying its share to finish the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale and called on his Federal colleagues to ‘go it alone’.
Mr Chester says he is worried that lives will be unnecessarily lost on the highway as a direct result of Premier Daniel Andrews refusal to provide $33 million to duplicate the final two sections.
“There’s just two sections waiting to be duplicated and the Federal Government has allocated $132 million which is the agreed 80% of the cost of the project,” Mr Chester said.
“Sadly, the Melbourne Labor Cabinet couldn’t care less about road safety in Gippsland and has refused to provide the $33 million required to finish the job. Our local Labor MP Harriet Shing has been silent on the issue for months and nothing is happening because she has no influence over her city bosses.
“Obviously, Victoria owns the road and the Federal Government can’t force the state to provide its share of the money.
“But I’ve given up on Labor doing the right thing and we should just go it alone as a Federal Government and give the Victorian Government our entire $132 million to duplicate the section at Kilmany.”
Mr Chester said he had raised the issue repeatedly with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack who is also Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
“I’ve written to the Deputy Prime Minister and spoken to him several times about the issue. He needs to tell his department to just get on with the job,” Mr Chester said.
“Gippslanders are sick and tired of waiting for Melbourne Labor MPs and bureaucrats at state and federal level to do their job on our behalf.
“There’s no point promising money in the budget and then wasting everyone’s time with so-called discussions and negotiations between departmental officials.
“Start building the Kilmany section now with the Federal Government funding and we can argue about the section at Flynn in the future.”
Mr Chester said the Premier had refused five requests to meet with him and discuss the issue.
“It just demonstrates the arrogance of Daniel Andrews and the contempt he has for Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Chester said.
“After just one visit to Gippsland in five years, we can’t wait for Premier Andrews to find Gippsland on a map again. The Federal Government must release all its funding for the Kilmany project and at least get one stage completed as soon as possible.”