Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says his government should fund the entire cost of the highest priority stage of the Princes Highway duplication project between Traralgon and Sale.
In a bid to break the political impasse between the State and Federal Governments, Mr Chester is lobbying his Federal colleagues to build the Kilmany overpass section without any State Government support.
He says it’s a practical solution to deliver a safer and more productive highway sooner for Gippslanders, after the State Labor Government has refused to provide its share of the funding for the project.
“Gippslanders are running out of patience and so am I,” Mr Chester said.
The duplication project is at a standstill because the State Government is refusing to provide its 20% share to build the final two stages.
“The Federal Government has allocated $132 million in the past two budgets but Premier Daniel Andrews is refusing to even acknowledge letters I’ve sent to him this year on behalf of Gippslanders, urging him to fund these critical roadworks.
“It’s a disgrace that Premier Andrews can fund billions of dollars of projects in Melbourne but refuses to find just $33 million to finish our highway duplication.
“Local Labor MPs have been silent on the issue and the only way to break the impasse is for the Federal Government to allocate its entire commitment to the Kilmany section and at least get the project moving again.
“That would just leave the Sheepwash Creek project between Rosedale and Traralgon to finish the job, which the state can fund in the future.”
Mr Chester said he had written directly to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and also raised the proposal during a meeting with local Mayors.
“While I acknowledge that under long established principles, the Commonwealth provides 80 percent of funding for this project and the State provides 20 percent, Gippsland motorists are being penalised because the Premier is too arrogant to even respond to letters on the issue,” Mr Chester said.
“The Kilmany section is clearly the worst section of the road yet to be duplicated and I understand that extensive design work has already been completed.
“I’m focussed on getting the job done, one way or another, and if we can release the Federal funding as soon as possible we can get work underway this calendar year.”