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More than $60 million of Princes Highway works over the past six years have improved safety and productivity east of Lakes Entrance, according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

The local MP has campaigned for Princes Highway works throughout his political career and negotiated a 50-50 funding deal between the Federal and State governments for the current work.

“Including the overtaking lane under construction east of Genoa, we have built six new overtaking areas over the past six years which has safety and productivity benefits,” Mr Chester said.

“Along with shoulder widening, improved rest areas and road resurfacing, the highway is in much better shape than it was when I started campaigning for extra funds with State MP Tim Bull.

“There’s still more work to be done but we’re heading in the right direction.”

Mr Chester said the summer bushfires had highlighted the need for more resilient transport corridors throughout the region.

“It’s not good enough in 2020 to have our major transport corridors like the Princes, Monaro and Bonang highways closed for weeks after a bushfire has impacted the roads,” Mr Chester said.

“We need more boots and less suits actually working in our region. That means all levels of government working to have more work crews on the ground, improving the resilience of transport corridors through clearing of verges and additional maintenance activities.

“The State Government has withdrawn staff from DELWP, Parks Victoria and road crews in East Gippsland over the past 20 years and local government amalgamation has also had an impact on staffing levels.

“The Federal Government has a policy of decentralisation but it hasn’t resulted in additional staff east of Lakes Entrance at this stage.

“I want to see more publicly paid staff working in our regions, not just in Canberra, Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley. Part of the answer to the economic challenges we face is getting more families to live in our region and that requires a mix of jobs in the public sector and a diverse range of private industry opportunities.”

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