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Mallacoota-Genoa Road upgrade must be protected from Labor budget cuts demands Darren Chester

Darren Chester, Federal Member for Gippsland, calls on the Albanese government to protect road safety and bushfire recovery projects from budget cuts, including the $10m Mallacoota-Genoa Road upgrade.

By news@gippsland - 2nd May 2023 - Back to News

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says bushfire impacted communities in East Gippsland are on the budget hit list for the Albanese government. Mr Chester has repeated his demand for Gippsland road safety, transport infrastructure, local governments and bushfire recovery projects to be quarantined from the Labor Party's budget cuts.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says a planned $10 million upgrade of the Mallacoota-Genoa Road is on the Labor government's infrastructure hit list

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says a planned $10 million upgrade of the Mallacoota-Genoa Road is on the Labor government's infrastructure hit list

Road projects endangered

Mr Chester said the announcement of a 90 day review into the federal government's infrastructure program was an ominous sign for Gippslanders with a $10 million commitment for upgrades to the Mallacoota-Genoa Road included on the list, according to Melbourne media reports.

"After 15 years in politics it's hard to surprise me anymore but I'm disgusted and frustrated on behalf of all Gippslanders that major road projects we worked hard to secure federal government funding for are now on the chopping block."

"The Federal Minister Catherine King has announced a review of infrastructure projects that may not proceed because work hasn't started and the Mallacoota-Genoa Road is on her hit list, according to a report in today's Herald Sun," Mr Chester said.

Federal road funding

Mr Chester said, "This is the road that was closed for two weeks after the Black Summer bushfires and provides the only road access to Mallacoota which lost more than 100 homes. Because of the road closure, we had to airlift people from Mallacoota after the bushfires and organised the biggest civilian evacuation in our nation's history with the Navy transporting holiday makers and locals to safety.

"Even though the state government owns the road and is solely responsible for its appalling condition, I worked with the former Federal Minister Michael McCormack to secure $10 million in the 2021 Federal budget. I argued that we needed a more resilient road access and the Mallacoota-Genoa Road was deserving of federal government support, even if the state government wasn't prepared to chip in," he continued.

Community safety at risk

Mr Chester said, "We announced the $10 million and I met with locals to get a consolidated list of their priorities which I provided to the state government almost two years ago. Despite my repeated efforts to get the state government to hurry up and start delivering improvements, we are still at the consultation/planning stage and at risk of having the money taken away as part of this review process."

"So in essence, we have a community which is at risk of being punished by the Federal Labor government because the State Labor government has failed to do its job!" Mr Chester said.

Minister ignores road upgrades

Mr Chester has criticised Ms King's failure to respond to letters he has written to her since June last year in relation to Gippsland infrastructure projects. "Minister Catherine King has failed to respond to any of my letters since June last year requesting consideration for critical road safety projects like upgrading the Great Alpine Road and further stages of Princes Highway improvements, which were already part of the previous government's budgets."

"Today I'm publicly releasing my letters to her office which demonstrate I have tried to work with the Minister constructively and in good faith but she has failed to deliver for Gippsland and now intends to cut funding for road safety," Mr Chester concluded.

Pictures from Darren Chester MP Facebook page.


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