I also want to vigorously oppose this adjournment. Why do we need to be gagging something which is an important issue — the most important issue in my electorate? Did they know that I wanted to speak? I am the one who has the worst roads in Victoria. VicRoads data proves that. So, what — do they want to keep me quiet because they do not want to hear how bad the roads are? Do they really not understand what the west looks like?
I heard the Minister for — what was it? — Unsafe Roads speaking about ‘out west’. Well, let me tell you that ‘out west’ goes a lot further than the western suburbs, and the safety of people right out west to the South Australian border is just as important as someone’s safety in metropolitan Melbourne. That is how you govern for the state of Victoria.
We have got pothole on top of pothole. It is so unsafe on our roads that people who are quite young will not drive in the evenings and the night-time because it is so dangerous. And when we fix the potholes, they just come back again in no time, because we are just not giving enough resources to the contractors to do the job. And what did the Auditor-General say? This government has no plan, no strategy; they do not monitor the work; they do not hold contractors to account and they do not provide enough resources. So, yes, those opposite do not want to hear that from me — I am sure they do not. The resources they do give, they do not make sure they are utilised well.
My daughter was at a function the other day and was handed a bag of goodies with no less than 10 freebies in it, all from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). What was it? A bag of mints, a USB — all with ‘TAC’ on them. How many freebies do we need to get in one bag to get the message? It is just wasteful; it is absolutely wasteful. The message is clear. Okay, let us have safety on our roads, but we do not have to give away 10 things to one person, and so many of them in one hit, to get that message through. It is just wasteful.
It is just like when the Myamyn-MacArthur Road was fixed. Within weeks after the first rainfall that road fell apart. Well, I ask you: who was holding people to account? Who was monitoring it? How could a very new road, just completed, fall apart within weeks? Of course when we raised that issue — oh, yes — we embarrassed those opposite. It was embarrassing. I would be embarrassed if I did a job that fell apart in three weeks — absolutely disgraceful.
And what is this government’s answer to fixing roads in south-west Victoria, in South-West Coast? Oh, that’s right: put up some 60-kilometre zone slow-down signs on major highways — on major highways, such as from Portland through to Dartmoor. It is a disgrace. Slow people down? Do they think that is going to help our safety and our productivity in getting product to market so that we can make sure that the area of the state that actually does produce the most agricultural product for our whole state is embraced rather than disadvantaged? How do you increase productivity when you are actually slowing down the transporter getting product to market? You do not. You are actually doing the opposite. You make it uncompetitive; you make it internationally uncompetitive.
We have actually looked at the reports of the productivity of the state of Victoria, and we are the worst. There are no worries there, are there? We are the worst. We do not know what productivity means. In fact I would ask those opposite what it does mean. I would hope they would try and explain it, but they have no idea so far.
So slow us down! All we are asking for is the opportunity to debate, because we are prepared. I heard from my colleagues — every single one — and many of them have come and visited and actually driven on our roads. The shadow minister for roads, the member for Croydon; the shadow Treasurer — the Treasurer-to-be — the member for Malvern; and the shadow minister for tourism, the member for Bayswater, are people who understand roads’ importance to the state of Victoria. They have all driven on these roads, and they were horrified.
What we have seen is our side of politics very committed to the decentralisation approach of having connectivity given a high priority and our roads given a high priority so that when we start governing, when we win the election in November, the whole state of Victoria — not just Melbourne, but the whole state of Victoria — will have better connectivity.
Of course we have to govern for the whole state. We want this state to be a state of cities, a state where we embrace the whole community. We want a community of people who have every right to contribute, but they need the roads to do that. They need the roads to be in a form that can take product to market. I have a constituent who has a bluestone quarry. When he was taking bluestone pavers down to Acland Street, they were broken by the time he got there. If that does not tell you about the size of the potholes in South-West Coast, nothing will. It is pretty damn hard to smash up some bluestone, but our roads can manage it.
Can you imagine the cost to businesses of truck maintenance? One guy told me his maintenance bill had gone up by $40 000 a month. This is not going to take our state forward, so do not gag us. Our roads are important.