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The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the Victorian Government would be ‘bonkers’ not to allocate the final parcel of funding needed to complete the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale.

Speaking in the House of Representatives this week, Mr Chester again appealed to the State Government to allocate its share of the money required to complete the final two sections at Flynn and Kilmany.

The Federal Government committed $132 million to the duplication project for these sections in the Federal Budget earlier this month.

“This is a project that has enjoyed bipartisan support over many years now at both state and federal level,” Mr Chester said.

“I’m appealing to the Victorian State Government to continue that level of bipartisan support by finding its 20 per cent of the final funding which will be required to finish the job.

“There’s $132 million now on the table from the Commonwealth and $33 million is required from the State Government to finalise this project.

“I must say the State Government would have to be bonkers not to stump up $33 million to finish the work.

“We’re all committed to having a better and safer Princes Highway, and it’s been one of those great projects which have seen local jobs created and have seen benefits from improving road safety and reducing road trauma.

“But there is also a longer term benefit of improving productivity, allowing us to get our products to market more readily, and obviously the longer term safety implications for not only the people of Gippsland, but also the people who choose to travel to our region.

“We’re passionate about increasing our visitor economy in Gippsland, and the more work we can do to improve our road and rail connectivity the more likely it is that we’ll see jobs flow through the tourism sector.”

Work is nearing completion on two other sections of the highway: construction on a 3.9 kilometre stretch east of Traralgon between Minniedale Road and east of Sheepwash Creek Road is due to be finished at the start of 2019; while work on the 3.4 kilometres of highway at Nambrok to the east of Rosedale-Maffra Road should be ready for vehicles at the end of this year.

Seven other sections have already been duplicated in the 11-stage project.

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