Parliament

Shepparton Bypass

November 13, 2019

Questions without notice - My question is to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure. I am delighted to hear the minister’s account of all the projects happening in regional Victoria, but she will be very well aware that the Shepparton bypass has been on the agenda for a very long time. It is the final duplication of the Goulburn Valley Highway. The Shepparton bypass has had a lot of investment in recent years, but this is a pivotal part of it. In the 2017–18 Victorian state budget two and a half years ago, funding was put aside for a business case. Minister, where is that business case? When will it be released? When will it be made available to our community?

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Minister response - Ms ALLAN (Bendigo East—Leader of the House, Minister for Transport Infrastructure) (11:34:37): I thank the Independent member for Shepparton for her question. As we have seen over the last five years since we have had an Independent member for Shepparton, there are actually issues about infrastructure in Shepparton getting raised in this place, so I am very pleased to address— Mr Merlino interjected. Ms ALLAN: The Deputy Premier has interjected that it beats pathetic representation. It sure does beat the pathetic representation the Shepparton community had for 90 years from the National Party. Anyway, I digress. The member for Shepparton quite understandably wants to know, and is eager to know on behalf of her community, the progress that is being made on the business case. As the Premier has also reminded me, this business case has been funded by our government in previous budgets. I can advise the member for Shepparton that that work on the business case is ongoing. A project of this size and scale and importance does require careful planning, and we are working closely with the community to get that planning right because whether it is road or rail, each project comes with a different range of complexities, and there are some complexities that have been identified through the business case and work that has been done to date. I am advised that there is significant work that needs to be done to ensure that the relevant environmental and cultural heritage issues in particular are addressed through the business case, so that work is ongoing. I know that there had previously been some optimism that that business case would be completed towards the end of this year. I am advised that it is not likely to be until next year because of these issues that have been identified. It also highlights why it is important to do careful planning and development of major and important projects like this—that you identify some of these challenges and you go through rigorous business case planning and development to work on these issues. I can advise the member for Shepparton that Major Road Projects Victoria will be conducting soon its second meeting with the project liaison group to provide some further information directly to the local community. That includes representatives from councils, local landowners and key groups, and so we will continue to keep the Independent member for Shepparton, the local community and indeed the federal government, who I know also have an interest in this project, informed of the progress of the business case. However, I will underscore the point that it is important that we undertake this planning, do the rigorous planning process, to identify any issues. You would rather identify them now in this planning stage than have them uncovered during the construction phase when it is much more difficult to address, so we will continue to work through those issues with the Shepparton community.

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Supplementary Question - Again to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, I would be horrified to think that this project might take as long as the Echuca bridge that has just dragged on for so many years. This is an important project because it links Brisbane to the port of Melbourne. It is a federal project as well, and the federal government have now put $208 million on the table towards this project. Can the minister tell me what negotiations she is undertaking with the federal government in relation to the future funding of this major project? 

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Minister response - Ms ALLAN (Bendigo East—Leader of the House, Minister for Transport Infrastructure) (11:38:11): I will resist the temptation to give the long history of the Echuca-Moama bridge and the betrayal of the Echuca community by the National Party—why that project took so long. On the issue of the Shepparton bypass, the member for Shepparton has identified that the federal government have made a funding commitment. However, I can advise that on our work done to date the funding that the federal government has on the table will not be enough for their share of 80 per cent of the project to be funded. It is important that we are providing this information to the federal government. I have spoken already with the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, about this project and how there are some challenges with the funding that has been made available. We will keep working with them on that. We will do this properly, unlike the National Party, who close country train lines, abandon country communities and betray them time and again. We take a very different approach. Ms Staley: On a point of order, Speaker, she is the Leader of the House. She knows the standing orders— Members interjecting. The SPEAKER: Order! Ms Staley: The minister knows not to do that, and she waits till the last few seconds of her contribution to get up and abuse the standing orders just for the sake of it. She does it time and time again. The SPEAKER: Order! The minister knows she should not attack the opposition.

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