Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (19:10): (6510) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and the action I seek is for the minister to provide funding and works from VicRoads or Regional Roads Victoria to improve the South Gippsland Highway between Foster and Yarram. Specifically what I am after is an overtaking lane between Foster and Toora, which land was purchased for in this particular location around 20 years ago by what was then called VicRoads, and yet nothing has ever occurred. You can actually still drive just out of Toora—on the western side of Toora—and you will see the long narrow stretch of land fenced off for an overtaking lane that never happened.
The history of this also goes back to the current works on the South Gippsland Highway at the Black Spur bends, which is a great project that I fought for for years and years, and the community has been after for a long time. It was my federal colleague Darren Chester who provided the funding at that time, as the federal minister for infrastructure, which was ultimately matched by the then Victorian roads minister, and the $50 million project was to proceed. It has ended up being $115 million—consistent with most blowouts under this government—but that project is almost complete, and we now need to move towards the next stage of improvements on the South Gippsland Highway.
There are a number of overtaking lanes between Nyora and Foster, but there is nothing from Foster onwards to Yarram. It is quite a distance to travel, and as I said, the purchase has actually been made of the roadside there to put in an overtaking lane. There are no further overtaking lanes between Toora and Yarram, but they are largely stretches of straight roads, and there are some good opportunities for overtaking. This is an area, though, that is located adjacent to the Prom and on the alternate route from Melbourne to Sydney that many tourists, with caravans and boats, and others go along on the South Gippy highway. I mentioned that Black Spur section because originally the federal government contribution was suggested to be predominantly—I think it was $25 million from each government, with $20 million each to go to the Black Spur realignment and a further $10 million for improvements between Meeniyan and Yarram, and that did not occur because that project blew out quite substantially.
The community would like to see more overtaking lanes and more improvements to the road surface itself between Foster and Yarram, and I encourage the minister to provide funding not only for that but particularly for the overtaking lane just out of Toora to make the South Gippsland Highway a much more attractive place and to make it more attractive for our tourists, our locals and our freight movements and to improve the road more generally, as it is in dire need at the moment.