Gippsland › Latest news › Darren Chester MP
Darren Chester warns East Gippsland faces potential cuts o $20M in road safety projects
Darren Chester, expresses concern that over $20 million worth of road safety projects in East Gippsland may be cut due to a federal infrastructure review, criticises the slow progress and lack of support from the Minister and department.
Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says more than $20 million worth of road safety projects in East Gippsland could be cut under the so-called infrastructure review announced by the federal government.Mr Chester said regional road safety, transport infrastructure, local governments and bushfire recovery projects should all be quarantined from the review but the Labor Party has refused to guarantee funding for safety projects that have already been designed.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the McEacharn Street roundabout project appears to be caught up in a review process along with three other projects in East Gippsland
Delayed funding mismanagement
Mr Chester said, "The great frustration is this money was all included in the $300 million Princes Highway package for Victoria announced in 2019 but bureaucrats have been pathetically slow in getting projects started. Victoria owns the highway and the federal government can't force it to do anything but we've been offering 80% of funding for projects and they still can't get the work done."
"Minister Catherine King has had more than a year in the job and her first big decision is to have a review into all projects that haven't started construction. We have no pipeline of future projects because this Minister refuses to do her day job and even consider road safety initiatives that were already budgeted for in 2019," he said.
Funding oversight worries
Mr Chester said he was particularly concerned about the funding which had been allocated and announced for four projects in East Gippsland: McEacharn Street roundabout in Bairnsdale, Kalimna intersection and pathway upgrades, Marine Parade safety upgrade in Lakes Entrance, and Eastern Beach Road traffic lights in Lakes Entrance.
He said the review of the infrastructure program should exempt life-saving projects like these road safety upgrades which had secured funding under previous budget rounds. "Too many people are killed and injured on sub-standard regional roads and this government has refused to approve projects and get the work done," Mr Chester said.
Infrastructure neglect continues
Mr Chester said, "No doubt under the Minister's instructions, the Federal Department has failed to process 'project proposal reports' for local communities on road safety initiatives which were actually agreed to in principle by the previous government."
"In effect, the Minister and her department have been 'on strike' since the last election and failed to support critical regional infrastructure and road safety projects in East Gippsland. All regional road safety funding should be quarantined from any budget cuts and the Minister and her Department need to stop blocking important projects from proceeding," he said.
Pictures from Darren Chester Facebook page.
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