There’s been a lot written about the condition of roads across the south-west, but one thing is for sure: the region’s roads are not up to scratch and they’re now being rebuilt, widened and made safer with the biggest ever boost to upgrade our roads. VicRoads has been going through the 300-plus submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Country Roads, and listening to the frank and important feedback. Our communities and industries have been leading voices in a push for a dedicated focus to fix rural roads. Now the entire state is receiving almost $1 billion to renew and rebuild roads, and the south-west has been recognised as a special case. Just as the original road builders of the Great Ocean Road could not have envisaged five million tourists a year, nor could they have planned for roads with thousands of B-doubles every day carrying exports to the busiest timber port in the world at Portland. The times and economy are changing and our roads are now being rebuilt to keep up. In the last financial year, the equivalent of the entire state road maintenance budget was invested in the south-west to begin to address the generational backlog of deteriorating roads. Strong investment will continue, with the Victorian Budget 2018/19 including a further $126 million of additional investment in the south-west. From big ticket upgrades of the highway from Colac to the border, to upgrades to Forrest-Apollo Bay Road and a new Bellarine rail trail, narrow sealed roads and dangerous intersections will be improved and roads made safer. Improving the quality of vital freight and tourist routes will remain a priority, with upgrades continuing on the three major roads leading to the Port of Portland, as well as ongoing geotechnical works to safeguard the future of the Great Ocean Road. The significant investment in road maintenance will also continue this year, with resurfacing and rebuilding works to be carried out right across the region to improve the safety and longevity of our regional road network. The need to work much more closely with local government has also been heard, with a $100 million fund to rebuild and resurface local essential roads. It’s not only about more money though. A new authority for regional roads – to be based in Ballarat with a presence in regional centres across the state – will help address decades of underinvestment and inattention, overseeing a $333 million investment in road maintenance. Championing the needs of country Victoria, Regional Roads Victoria will give rural and regional Victorians a direct line of communications to VicRoads, and a clear focus on making the network safe and fit for a growing tourism, agribusiness and innovation economy. People in the south-west deserve roads they can rely on, and this investment continues the rebuild to make sure the roads are safer and more reliable than ever before.
Mark Koliba, VicRoads South West Regional Director
For many years individuals like me have felt helpless in the face of the ‘Stop the Boats’ at all costs logic of our government. We have been continually told that the justification for the punitive approach taken toward people seeking asylum, ie indefinite offshore detention and boat turnbacks is the only option to prevent deaths at sea by desperate people. So it is with great joy that I see a viable alternative presented to our parliament during 2018 Refugee Week. The Refugee Protection Bill 2018 moved by Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie proposes legislation that provides safe alternatives for those seeking asylum and removes the necessity of expensive offshore detention facilities. This bill should be supported by all who want to discourage people smugglers and risky boat journeys to Australia. I intend encouraging Dan Tehan MP as my political representative to speak up in support of this bill. I hope you will too.
Katherine Stewart, Warrnambool
Having a voice
Too often I am invited to participate or contribute to a matter of local, national or international relevance, to express an opinion or have my say only to find myself restricted or completely eliminated unless I choose to use an online website. I doubt I am the only person in this community who for whatever reason has chosen not to rely completely on modern technology to communicate with others. Fortunately I am still able to make conversation, to express my thoughts in writing and use the telephone. I even write letters to family and friends. However, I became exasperated when I discovered postcodes were no longer included in the local phone book, merely a referral to your nearest Australia Post outlet or some website. Take note of the slimlined version of the latest edition. Though sceptical of opinion polls, surveys and other methods of collecting data for a number of reasons included by whom, where or when they are conducted, editing and bias, but particularly because they are not all inclusive because of their method of communication. Finally how often do we discover that decisions have been adopted before the magnanimous offer to have your say is preferred. Generally people of my vintage no longer desire to be chiefs, but would still like to be considered as a member of the tribe.
Brian Kavanagh, Warrnambool