My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Roads and Road Safety.
The action I seek is that the minister visit my electorate on the earliest possible occasion to be briefed on the Shepparton bypass proposal and to view the proposed route for stages 1A and 1B of the Goulburn Valley Highway bypass.
Earlier this year the Greater Shepparton City Council called for the two stages to be merged in order to progress the project.
This is a priority project for my electorate. It is listed as a priority by the Greater Shepparton City Council, by lobby groups and by the Committee for Greater Shepparton. It is listed as a priority by the RACV, which has consistently put up the project to both state and federal governments as one of its election wishes. An assessment of the economic benefits of the bypass has recently been completed by Essential Economics. It shows that stage 1 alone would increase the regional economic output by $465 million and create more than 2500 jobs.
The Goulburn Valley Highway is a national corridor serving major freight links to the port of Melbourne. Around 25 per cent of all the trucks registered in Victoria are from the Goulburn Valley, and a quarter of the value of the state’s agricultural produce comes from the region. Dairy is a key industry in the area. Crops grown include apples, pears, peaches and tomatoes. Victoria is Australia’s largest pear producer, accounting for about 84 per cent of the total production, and almost all of Victoria’s pears, both fresh and processed, are grown in the Goulburn Valley, according to Apple and Pear Australia. So you can imagine how much heavy traffic flows up and down the highway daily — not just the current highway but also through the middle of the CBD in Shepparton. The heavy traffic bypass around the city is a single-lane rural road. The Australian Road Assessment Program rated most of the current Goulburn Valley Highway at three stars and sections of it as low as two, putting it among the worst roads in the state.
I also raise the road safety aspect and note that the road toll in the Greater Shepparton region is high. A dozen people lost their lives in 2015, six times the number who were killed on the Goulburn Valley roads the previous year. Victoria’s road toll is again climbing. We need safer roads. We need better infrastructure. Shepparton has done everything asked of it to get the funding for the bypass. We have been told the entire project is too big, so the community went back to the drawing board and broke it down into more manageable chunks. Still we wait. My electorate needs the government to support the first stage of the bypass, for which it has been lobbying for more than 20 years.