Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Fixing Country Roads Program

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (18:35): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. My matter regards the fixing country roads program, which has unfortunately ceased. This program may be known to some by its former name, the country roads and bridges program. Basically these programs gave $1 million to each rural and regional council to fund road upgrades that were outside basic road maintenance. Whilst the country roads and bridges was axed in 2014 when Labor won government, it was pleasing to see that the government later introduced its own version of the program in 2018–19 to give rural councils a leg-up. The two rounds of funding assisted in projects such as the Hesse Street improvements in Queenscliff, the Watchem-Warracknabeal Road upgrade, the Talbot Avoca Road renewal and upgrade and the ring-road upgrades at Ballarat to make it safer for truckies and many more which I cannot fit into my 3-minute speech. Round 1 provided a total of $30 million to all 48 rural and regional councils, with projects being delivered. A third round of the program was not offered to any of Victoria’s 48 regional or rural councils, and this is the issue. Some of our regional councils rely on this money to ensure that their other essential services can be carried out whilst maintaining road safety within their local government area. This is particularly necessary right now, when many rural and regional councils have delivered huge COVID-19 recovery grants programs. I note that the current government has, and I quote: … invested $80 million to rebuild, repair and resurface more than 500 kilometres of arterial roads across north-central Victoria this maintenance season. But councils know their roads well, and many regional councils are telling me that they do not have excess funds to complete these larger road projects due to these funds being spent on COVID-19 recovery and other shovel-ready projects. I would like to thank Mr Carroll’s office for their assistance in passing on my concerns already. However, I hope this puts on the record my hopes that this program will be funded again. Therefore the action that I obviously seek is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety to reinstate the fixing country roads program for our rural and regional councils.


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