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December 17, 2010

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says he’s keen to work with all levels of government to achieve road safety upgrades in the Yarram and district area.

Mr Chester this week met with local residents who had contacted his office to express their concerns with the lack of progress on road upgrades and essential maintenance on roads across the region.

As the recently appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Regional Transport, Mr Chester said he was keen to promote the interests of smaller communities like Yarram which are struggling to provide safe roads for locals and visitors to the region.

“It was The Nationals in government at a Federal level which implemented the Roads to Recovery program that has seen massive investment in local roads,” Mr Chester said.

“This program provides direct funding for local councils to set their priorities in relation to road upgrades but of course there’s never enough money for the amount of work that is required.

“It concerns me that the Federal Labor Government has not made an ongoing funding commitment to the Roads to Recovery program and it is something that I will be pursuing when Parliament resumes in 2011.”

Mr Chester said he would also work with Gippsland South MP and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Wellington Shire Councillors to make sure that Yarram gets a fair share of funding from other levels of government.

“Anecdotally, I receive a lot of feedback from motorists who believe the standard of our major roads has dropped over the past 11 years under the Bracks and Brumby Labor Governments,” Mr Chester said.

“I don’t believe that VicRoads has enough funding to maintain a safe road environment on the major transport routes in South Gippsland and I will be working with Peter Ryan to promote our region’s interests.

“I’m concerned that the cost of road improvements has increased significantly over the past decade but the amount of funding available for safety upgrades has failed to keep pace with these rising costs.

“The Council struggles to keep up with demand and the system of ‘special charge schemes’ to raise money from adjoining landowners places a major cost burden on low income families. These are complex issues that will require a solution involving all levels of government and a commitment to get value for money for taxpayers.”

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