The Mirror News

Not a lot for South Gippsland in the State Budget

LAST week’s State Budget proved a bit of a fizzer for South Gippsland with no real new projects outlined in it.

There is no funding for local schools at Foster or Wonthaggi, but there is mention of the funding for the Black Spur and road improvements between Meeniyan and Foster or Wonthaggi, which we were already aware of.

Apart from that there was very little to get excited about.

SOUTH GIPPSLAND HIGHWAY GETS MASSIVE OVERHAUL

THE Andrews Labor Government is improving driver safety on the notorious Black Spur with a new dual lane highway being built.

The Victorian Budget 2017/2018 will invest $25 million to improve safety for motorists on the Highway in Koonwarra and between Meeniyan and Yarram, removing  nine tight bends, sealing road shoulders and installing new safety barriers.

A new section of dual lane highway will be built to reduce the length of the Black Spur section from 3.4km to 2.3km and two new bridges will be constructed over the Tarwin River.

The upgrade will also see a new highway underpass east of Old Koonwarra-Meeniyan Road to connect the Great Southern Rail Trail and an access path to the trail underneath the new bridge near Minns Road.

The South Gippsland Highway is a major regional transport route leading more than one million visitors a year to some of the state’s most popular tourist destinations, such as Wilsons Prom and Venus Bay.

Local farmers and the freight industry will also get their produce to markets and the ports of Melbourne, Hastings and Barry Beach fast and safer.

It will also reduce fuel and maintenance costs for the freight industry by removing the need to slow down to navigate bends through the Black Spur section.

The upgrade will reduce travel times for the 5000 vehicles, including 800 trucks, that travel daily through Koonwarra.

There have been 13 reported crashes on the Highway over a five-year period, most caused by cars running off the road through the Black Spur.

Works are expected to begin in early to mid 2018 and construction is expected to be completed by early 2021.

The Australian Government will provide matching funding of $25 million taking the total investment to $50 million.

DANNY O’BRIEN

THE Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said Gippslanders faced higher taxes in today’s State Budget, but were getting less.

Mr O’Brien said he was disappointed that key projects he had been campaigning for in Gippsland had been overlooked and the much needed Gippsland rail line upgrade ignores Sale train users and relies entirely on Federal funding.

“Breaking a key election promise, Daniel Andrews has revealed a budget of higher taxes for Gippsland families, but delivers less,” Mr O’Brien said.

“In Gippsland South, this means people are paying more, but Daniel Andrews isn’t delivering the services or jobs we need, including programs that will help make our state safe again.

“There is no funding to complete the duplication of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale and no reinstatement of the Country Roads and Bridges Program to fix our roads. There is also no mention of the $5 million Daniel Andrews needs to provide to match Federal funding for the Hyland Highway.

“There is no funding or action on a new Sale campus for Federation Training which the community has been campaigning on for over 10 years now.

“Likewise Labor has made no allocation for new fire stations at Yarram, Mirboo North and Foster.

“Stage two of the Korumburra Secondary College rebuild has again been overlooked and Daniel Andrews has ignored calls for a new Foster Primary School. Labor has actually slashed $87 million from rural and regional schools spending in Victoria in this budget.”

Mr O’Brien said the Budget also lacked any mention of new train stabling at Sale, to meet growing demand.

“With train stabling at Sale, some of the Traralgon services could begin and end at Sale at little ongoing cost.  I am mystified as to why the government has not included it in the rail plans,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Budget confirms funding to match a Commonwealth commitment to the realignment of the Black Spur section of the South Gippsland Highway and also delivers funding for upgrades at Seaspray and Cobains primary schools.  There are also minor funding announcements for the Princes Highway roundabout at Rosedale, but even this is funded by the Commonwealth.

WELCOMES BUDGET

Gippsland Local Government Network (GLGN) welcomed more than half a billion-dollar investment into the Gippsland region announced by the Victorian Government in the 2017/18 Budget.

GLGN Chair, Councillor Joe Gauci said the investment by the Government is a significant win for the region and congratulated all involved in the GLGN’s advocacy efforts.

“We commend the Government on their commitment to recognising the critical need for investment and jobs in our communities,” Councillor Gauci said.

“GLGN advocated for significant upgrades to the Gippsland rail and road networks, a Gippsland tourism destination management plan and funding for a collaborative waste initiative project in our 2017-18 Budget Submission to the Government.

“We received $435 million for upgrades to our rail lines, $50 million for upgrades to the South Gippsland Highway, and funding for a Gippsland tourism destination management plan. It’s also understood that there might be further announcements on waste in the future.

“That’s funding for three out of our four key budget asks – we’re very happy with the outcome,” he said.

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