Adjournment debate – South-West Coast electorate roads

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. The action I seek is for him to ensure that road repair works being carried out in my electorate are carried out to a standard that prevents further repair work from being necessary in the short term. This is the second time I have stood in this Parliament in as many months to decry the quality of roadworks being completed in my electorate. It seems that no sooner than a section of road gets fixed it is breaking up again, requiring a second, third, fourth and sometimes even fifth round of repairs at what cost to the taxpayer? Who would repair the same problem five separate times knowing it would probably happen again? You would not run a business like that, repairing an asset over and over again knowing it would end up costing more than buying a brand-new asset. It is sloppy business practice, and that is what this government is doing with our roads.

Last week a 130-metre stretch of Henty Highway near Portland was in such a bad state of repair that one lane of traffic heading into town was closed as a safety precaution. I have been told that this section of the road has been patched at least five times in the past six months. Last week VicRoads prioritised comprehensive repairs on this section of road, and machinery moved in to finally do a proper rebuild on this section of road.

Given the track record, I, along with the rest of the community, wait to see how long it will last. This is not an isolated case. In June I stood here and spoke about a section of the same highway just a few kilometres up the road, and I received calls and emails from constituents from Caramut, Heywood, Macarthur, Warrnambool, Nelson, Port Fairy and Panmure, telling me about a recent road repair which is falling apart after just a few weeks.

The Auditor-General’s report Maintaining State-Controlled Roadways found that there has been a complete failure by this government to manage an effective statewide maintenance program or to ensure timely repair works. Further to that, the Auditor-General found that this city-centric Labor government has no plan for regular maintenance on country roads and seems not to care that third-party contractors are never held to account.

This government is just throwing good money after bad on substandard road repairs, and no-one is responsible for the final project. The fact is this is happening again and again. Minister, are you not one bit concerned that your department is wasting money and has no idea about what is really happening? Is it any wonder the people of regional Victoria feel like that are left behind by the Labor government when they continually see their hard-earned money being shovelled into shoddy repair jobs week after week rather than decent, considered and well-planned works?

All the funding announcements and media releases mean nothing if the works being promised are not up to scratch. The people of South-West Coast drive on these roads every day and see what an inadequate job is being done, and they lay the blame at your feet, Minister. Given there was money announced today for road upgrades to improve regional productivity in my electorate, a need for greater accountability for the standard of work being done is even more pressing. Minister, it is time to stop the waste and get on with the job of repairing our regional roads.