Question without notice
My question is to the Minister for Roads and Road Safety.
The Goulburn Valley Highway Bypass Committee has been lobbying successive governments for years to commit to the construction of the Shepparton bypass, a critical stage in the duplication of the Goulburn Valley Highway to the New South Wales border.
The committee has identified that an allocation of approximately $15 million to $20 million will allow the acquisitions and necessary preliminary works to get this project shovel ready. Can the minister advise on the government’s position in relation to funding this project, which is vital to my electorate?
Mr Donnellan, Minister for Roads and Road Safety
I thank the member for Shepparton for her question and for her strong advocacy for and commitment to looking for better outcomes for her community. The Andrews government is aware of the importance of the Goulburn Valley Highway as a principal route for freight and general traffic between inland New South Wales, Brisbane and Melbourne.
I am aware that the community in Shepparton and the bypass committee have been calling for the construction of the full bypass for some time. In 2006 land was set aside for this project. I understand that VicRoads is also working with the Goulburn Valley Highway Bypass Committee, undertaking preliminary assessments for the future bypass that include a construction approach to looking at this road.
The last time I was up there I was with members of the Committee for Shepparton and Jaclyn Symes, a member for Northern Victoria Region in the Council, and the like. They put forward different ways of looking at how to actually undertake this bypass, not necessarily doing it in two lanes but as a single-lane bypass, and looking at different ways of seeking to provide it within a certain envelope, which I was very supportive of.
VicRoads is currently investigating the initial stage to connect the Goulburn Valley Highway to the Echuca-Mooroopna Road, which also includes a river crossing. VicRoads will be working at looking at the planning, environmental and heritage assessments, which will be undertaken for that first stage. Obviously we look to the federal government also to look at co-investing in this initial stage of the Shepparton bypass. As the member would be aware, we made a commitment to spend over the next two terms $1 billion on regional and rural roads. Most recently we also made a commitment to the $200 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, which may look at this particular proposition.
We obviously believe this is a vital bypass. It is very important for getting freight and produce to the port of Melbourne. I am very supportive of working with the member to seek funding for this initial stage.
Can the minister provide time lines indicating his government’s commitment to this important project?
I thank the member for Shepparton for her supplementary question. Of course I will work with VicRoads to look at various options in relation to funding with the programs we have put forward including the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. We will also be calling on the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, to work with us. We will move as quickly as we can to seek this initial funding to get this project started.