Statement from Damian Drum, the Federal Member for Nicholls

The political games from the Victorian State Labor Government must end.

The people of the Goulburn Valley have waited long enough for the Shepparton bypass and if Labor is serious about this project – one it has constantly stalled and obfuscated – it must put its money where its mouth is and include its share in tomorrow’s state budget.

Funding was allocated for a Shepparton bypass business case in the 2017/18 Victorian state budget and was due to be delivered in 2019.

Two years late, the business case finally arrived at the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications late last month – but with secrecy provisions that mean I, as the local federal member, cannot view it or be told what is in it.

In addition to the obvious safety issues, many investment decisions, which create thousands of local jobs, are reliant on what happens with the bypass.

People have had enough of Victorian Labor’s words. They want action. And that action must begin tomorrow with its 20 per cent share in the state budget.

Anything other than that outcome would be yet another slap in the face for the people of the Goulburn Valley, who are unfortunately accustomed to Labor ignoring their needs.

SHEPPARTON BYPASS: TIMELINE

Background: Regional road projects are funded jointly with the Federal Government paying 80 per cent and the State Government 20 per cent.

April 2019: Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, announced $208 million funding for stage one of the bypass, based on the most current business case.

June 2020: Mr Drum said he understood the updated business case would project a higher figure but insisted “if it means I have to go back to my government and find an extra $50 to 70 million then I am prepared to have that fight — but I need the business case completed by the Victorian Government”.

“Having $208 million in Federal Government funding just sitting on the table for the past year is ridiculous — it’s time the Victorian Government completed the business case and dipped into its pockets,” Mr Drum said.

December 2020: State Member for Shepparton, Suzanna Sheed, told the media: “In my discussions with (Minister for Transport Infrastructure) Jacinta Allan she has told me the business case would be released by the end of 2020 but hasn’t provided a date.”

February 2021: Ms Allan said a draft of the business case had been completed and that it is “now undergoing review and evaluation with the Department of Transport”.

Late April 2021: Two years overdue, the business case is delivered to the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications with strict secrecy provisions.

ENDS

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