A NEW and innovative funding model would help fix crucial roads in western Victoria’s bluegum harvest, industry experts say.
According to Port of Portland estimates, about 200 truck movements are expected per day during the harvest, with up to 2.4 million tonnes of soft and hard wood freight to be carried.
With more than three million tonnes anticipated for the financial year, Great South Coast Group chair Matt Makin has major concerns over the deterioration of the main harvest road, Condah Hotspur Upper Road, 20km north of Heywood.
“Comments from (Nationals leader) Warren Truss about using other funding options, like superannuation funds, are quite interesting and definitely worth exploring,” Cr Makin said.
“The constant message we’re getting is the government doesn’t have money so we do need to think outside the box.”
At this week’s Wannon Roads Forum, Mr Truss said superannuation groups were beginning to explore investment into infrastructure projects overseas. Port of Portland chief executive Jim Cooper said “bite-sized” funding was needed to source an upgrade project for Condah Hotspur Upper Road.
“There must be alternative ways to fund these roads in bite-sized chunks, not just using the old-fashioned approach of asking the government for 100 per cent,” Mr Cooper said.
“I promote a ‘user pays’ basis for repayment over 10 to 15 years, with super funds a source of money. It’s time now for the industry and state government to start talking about how to do this.”