South-west roads will suffer because of Labor’s freight rail failure

The south-west’s already crumbling roads will be put under even more pressure thanks to Labor’s neglect of the freight rail network and the botched Murray Basin Rail Project.

Member for South West Coast and Shadow Minister for Rural Roads, Ports and Freight Roma Britnell said with a record grain harvest on the cards, rail isn’t a viable or cost-effective solution for farmers.

“This means they will turn to road transport – and according to the Victorian Farmers Federation, an extra 10,000 B-Double will be used to take grain to port- including the Port of Portland,” Ms Britnell said.

“The Victorian Farmers Federation is the latest group to raise concerns about the pressures increased trucks will put on already crumbling roads – I’ve been saying it for years and the community has been screaming out for action.

“But Labor just won’t listen. The last state budget didn’t include a single dollar for new freight rail projects and left road funding at the same levels when it’s clear there needs to be a significant investment in repair and maintenance.”

Ms Britnell said the Murray Basin Rail Project remains half-finished and so badly botched that the work already done needs to be ripped up and replaced.

“They took shortcuts and actually significantly increased travel times for trains, reducing capacity in the network.”

“Under a revised business case released last year Labor has no plans to finish the job – this will mean the Port of Portland will remain isolated from key grain growing areas in the state’s north, meaning more tucks will be travelling to the port rather than more trains.

“Labor can’t find any money to fix it’s stuff-ups and get the job finished, instead they send the bill to Canberra.

“When the cost of infrastructure projects in the city blow out – Labor can find billions to plug the holes – once again showing they have no interest in projects outside the metro boundary.”

Ms Britnell said the community and industry have been screaming out for significant investment in freight networks for years, but the Andrews Government isn’t listening.

“It’s Victorian farmers who will pay the price. Time is money – and if you can’t get you produce to market in an efficient manner, your already thin margins are further reduced.

“Labor needs to open its ears and start listening to these concerns and then stump up the cash to start addressing the major issues in Victoria’s road and rail freight networks.”

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