• Loddon Herald

Candidates talk roads

The Loddon Herald is asking questions on local issues of the Mallee candidates for the May 21 election.


These are the responses received on roads.


STUART KING (UAP)

RURAL roads are a disgrace! Their current condition is a failing of all current and previous Liberal-National and Labor-Green governments. Roads are just one of the obvious indicators of the contempt that Federal and State Governments have for regional Australia and in particular how the National Party no longer represents rural people adequately.

United Australia Party will invest significantly in national infrastructure projects, including roads, by allocating a fixed percentage of government revenue to regional Australia. Road funding can’t just be based on population or traffic counts - it needs to take into account the economic value the road generates.

This investment supports our other regionally focused policies, such as a 20 per cent tax concession for businesses and individuals living and working in regional Australia. This will drive economic growth, support for manufacturing and processing, and increased population, leading to sustainable communities in the regions.

As an elected representative of Swan Hill Rural City Council, I understand the challenges rural councils face with the costs of road maintenance. I am absolutely committed to improving the funding arrangements for rural councils as the current model is financially unsustainable.

This may include a fixed percentage of revenue funded directly to councils to sustain their budgets for road maintenance and other services they deliver. Sending funding directly from federal to local governments also improves the efficiency of finance delivery and cuts out unnecessary waste through multiple layers of bureaucracy, like the State Government.

I would also advocate for better distribution of funds from State Government revenue sources to regional councils and road projects. Rural Victorians make a significant contribution through vehicle registrations for example, but these funds never seem to make it to the regions.

I remember as a child travelling the Calder Highway from our farm west of Swan Hill to Melbourne, and again later in life driving trucks and buses. Unfortunately, nothing much has changed along this route north of Bendigo in over 40 years except deterioration. The Calder Highway is a road of National significance and should be treated and funded as such.

The UAP is committed to the funding of Nation Building Infrastructure projects. This includes the Calder Highway in the Loddon Shire region and beyond, all the way to Mildura.

We will also better fund the rail freight networks, including the Murray Basin Rail Project, which will assist in taking some of the freight from roads such as the Calder Highway, improving the safety of motorists and pedestrians, and the liveability, in highway towns.

SOPHIE BALDWIN (IND)

LOCAL government funding must be prioritised. The outdated population based funding model is not adequate to address or maintain local government maintenance and improvement responsibilities. Our roads are delivering essential freight to major cities and ports across the country and are crumbling under the pressure, not to mention the safety risk to everyday drivers. Our shires must be better funded to help mitigate risk and not by continually increasing rural rates either, but by an improved funding model.

We need to stop playing games with local vs state vs federal funding. The constant arguments around who funds what road is getting ridiculous. Our roads need a bipartisan long term approach to ensure fair and equitable road funding and not just an election promise.

Rural roads are nation building infrastructure and provide vital connections to move across the country, passing lanes are an essential part of doing that safely. Bendigo to Wedderburn is a 75km stretch of highway without a single passing lane and future road funding must not just be about the city voter but rather about long-term sustainable planning. We deserve to drive on safe roads and I will fight for increased funding to ensure this is possible.

ANNE WEBSTER (NATIONALS)

IN MY first term of government, I have secured over $500 million for roads in Mallee. It’s clear however, that more needs to be done. People should be safe driving at all hours of the day or night. In regional Australia, our roads require a great deal of investment to ensure that they are safe for all road users. It is also vital our commodities can efficiently get to market or to port. I will keep fighting to ensure that Mallee gets the investment it needs for road infrastructure, so that families can return home safely. I will continue to fight to ensure that the State Government delivers on the Murray Basin Rail Project, of which I fought and delivered as part of the Nationals team, a further $200 million last year.





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