Nats vow to restore road program

By Benalla Ensign

The Liberal Nationals say they will fix country roads and save country lives, if elected in November.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh and Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure David Hodgett announced this week if elected, the Liberal Nationals would bring back the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program.

They point to the fact that Labor axed the program when elected in 2014, leaving councils struggling to meet the cost of maintaining local roads.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said she had been advocating for more funding for roads since being elected.

‘‘(Under this plan) the Nationals will give an extra $4 million to the Rural City of Benalla to help the council maintain local roads,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘By re-establishing the Country Roads and Bridges Program we will ease pressure on council rates and improve deteriorating local roads.

‘‘Rural councils like Benalla have been pleading with Daniel Andrews and Labor MPs to reinstate the Country Roads and Bridges Program.

‘‘Labor’s city-centric decision to strip councils of this funding has put upwards pressure on rates and seen our local roads deteriorate.

‘‘As a rural MP and ratepayer, I understand the difficulties small councils like Benalla have in trying to maintain an enormous road network when they have a small rateable base.’’

Should the Liberal Nationals win the election about $1 million in grants will be provided to Victoria’s 40 rural shires each year over four years.

The grants are designed to help restore and rehabilitate council-maintained roads and bridges.

People in rural Victoria are over-represented in the road toll.

In 2017, 156 lives were lost on roads in rural Victoria, compared to 102 on roads in Melbourne.

The Liberal Nationals say that the Country Roads and Bridges Program will give rural Victorians the safe and reliable infrastructure they deserve.