Peter Walsh highlights need for more roads funding
The crumbling South Gippsland roads and the negative effect they’re having on the local primary industries sector was highlighted this week when Shadow Agriculture and Water Minister and Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh visited South Gippsland.
Mr Walsh, who was joined by The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien, said drivers would soon start to see the effects of Labor’s road funding cuts.
“Labor has cut 10 per cent from the roads maintenance budget and its promise to deliver $1 billion over eight years to improve the condition of roads in regional areas like South Gippsland was left unfunded in the State Budget, which means that local roads with start to rapidly deteriorate as we head into winter,” Mr Walsh said.
“The hilly landscape and the area’s high rainfall in conjunction with Labor’s cuts to road funding will spell disaster for this region.
“The roads may deteriorate over winter and come summer there won’t be any money for the necessary works to take place.”
Mr O’Brien said in addition to cutting 10 per cent from the roads budget, Labor had axed the Coalition’s successful $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program, which delivered $1 million per year to councils like South Gippsland to enable them to complete roadworks.
While in South Gippsland, Mr Walsh and Mr O’Brien also visited Select Produce’s Korumburra’s factory, which processes locally grown snow peas and sugar snap peas and Moyarra sheep cheese producer, Prom Country Cheese.
Mr Walsh said South Gippsland’s agriculture sector was a large contributor to the Victorian economy and producers needed to be able to rely on safe, well-maintained roads to get their product to consumers.
“Select Produce is a big local employer in Korumburra and to ensure that they can continue to employ local people and operate from South Gippsland, the infrastructure needs to be on par with the rest of the state,” Mr Walsh said.
“Labor’s cuts are doing nothing to help farmers get their product to the Melbourne vegetable market or factories like Select Produce or Murray Goulburn.”
Mr O’Brien said Labor’s Roads Minster had been on the record while in Opposition as highlighting the need for immediate funding for South Gippsland roads to ensure the best possible infrastructure for local industries and motorists.
“It is very disappointing that Labor is now cutting funding and walking away from its own promise,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The Nationals in the Coalition Government were serious about creating infrastructure and roads that made it easier for South Gippsland’s primary producers to get their product to the market or factory and increased the annual roads budget to more than $500 million.
“In addition, we delivered funding for the Leongatha Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route, which will improve transport efficiency by redirecting trucks away from the central business district and improve safety and amenity for shoppers and small businesses operators."
Mr Walsh and Mr O’Brien also toured Prom Country Cheese where the Brandon family produces more than 11 varieties of cheese from their farm in Moyarra.
Mr O’Brien said it was refreshing to see Prom Country Cheese offering a true paddock to plate experience in South Gippsland.
“The Brandon family is responsible for the entire cheese making process from growing the pastures, to breeding and milking the sheep, handcrafting the cheese and then selling it to consumers,” Mr O’Brien said.
“With some of the state’s best vegetables, beverages and cheese coming from South Gippsland, it is no secret that many people are now visiting our magnificent part of the world to enjoy the food that locals have done for many years.
“Prom Country Cheese offers visitors the chance to watch the cheese making process, view the paddocks where the sheep graze and then sample the fruits of the Brandon’s labour, their delectable sheep milk cheeses.”
Mr O’Brien said the cheese cellar door was open to the public between 10am and 5pm on weekends.