Adjournment – REGIONAL AND RURAL ROADS

Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (19:06): (6198) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and the action I seek is an investigation and a proper explanation of the failures of a road-spending program in my electorate, and indeed across the state and across Gippsland, last year. The project in particular was funded about 80 per cent by the federal government. There were quite a number of aspects to it, but in particular my concern is about shoulder sealing that occurred on a number of roads in and around my electorate, including Bengworden Road, Rosedale-Longford Road, Longford-Loch Sport Road, Seaspray Road and Traralgon-Maffra Road.

What happened is this was funding that I had been fighting for and that the federal member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, had been fighting for. His government provided, as I said, the bulk of the funds, and the project was to widen the shoulders on a number of those arterial roads. They are major roads but operated by Regional Roads Victoria. That was great. What we actually saw was that these shoulders were sealed, and within literally weeks we started to get potholes. Now, we understand it was a very wet season, and that has certainly caused some of the issue, but the seal—literally the line between the old road edge and the new shoulder seal—became a debacle. We had within weeks, months in some cases, potholes appearing and the road base building up and becoming a massive road issue.

This is an issue that I want the minister to investigate, because I have written to the minister and very uncharacteristically for him—because he has been very good at getting back to people and getting back to us very quickly—he asked Regional Roads Victoria to call me and said, ‘You will not be getting a formal response’. The response from Regional Roads Victoria was, ‘Oh yes, it was not our finest hour. We’re going to be doing some rectification’.

What I really want to know is how are the contracts established? There is now additional money having to be spent to rectify those roads. Literally in the last couple of weeks there have been crews out repatching the bits that were done last year. This is something that my community and I are really angry about. We hate to see waste, particularly when it comes to our roads. Our roads are poor in the first place. It was great getting this project up and going. To see it botched so badly—and now for us, the taxpayers, to be having to pay for it again—is simply not acceptable.

That is the answer I seek from the minister. What went wrong? Was it in the specifications and the directions that Regional Roads Victoria gave to the contractors? Was it the contractors themselves? Was it simply a mistake of timing? And I do want an explanation as to who is paying for the rectification, because these roadworks were terrible and it is not good enough.

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