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May 24, 2010

It seems there’s nothing like an election year to get some State Labor Ministers out of Melbourne and visiting regional areas like East Gippsland.

Just last week, we had the Minister for Roads Tim Pallas parading through the region to re-announce the State Government’s $35 million contribution to the first stage of duplication works on the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale.

Of course that money was announced more than a year ago and the Minister had nothing new to say about the Princes Highway east of Sale.

But in his comments to the Bairnsdale Advertiser on Friday, Mr Pallas said and I quote:
“the core priority always has to be safety…there’s a compelling case that safety has to come first’.

Given the Princes Highway east of Sale experienced 28 fatalities over the past six years it is a welcome acknowledgement from the Minister but it must be backed up with additional funding.

I’m supporting a community campaign to have the Princes Highway east of Sale recognised under the Federal Government’s National Road Network. Such recognition would provide opportunities for seeking additional funding along the lines of the Federal Government’s $140 million commitment to the Princes Highway between Sale and Traralgon.

The petition is available for signing from my office or by contacting the principal petitioner Tim Bull.

This week I’ve also written to Mr Pallas and asked him to support our community by lobbying the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Anthony Albanese to support the community’s position.

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Pallas will back up his rhetoric with a real commitment to securing additional funds to improve safety on the Princes Highway throughout our entire region.

It’s also interesting to note that after 11 years as a local member our Independent MP has not been able to convince his Labor mates to undertake a major upgrade of the highway in East Gippsland.

Posing for photographs and talking about road safety is starting to wear very thin for motorists who use the road on a daily basis.

It’s time for action and there’s no doubt that State and Federal Governments must increase their funding allocations to improve road safety on our highway network.

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