The Nationals Member for Shepparton District, Kim O’Keeffe, is appalled by Federal Labor’s decision to axe the Shepparton Bypass, saying it is another example of Labor letting the Goulburn Valley region down.
On Thursday, 16 November 2023, Federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine King released findings of the Government’s Federal Infrastructure Review, revealing that Stage 1 the Shepparton Bypass project would be cancelled.
“Despite assurances from the former Premier, despite millions of state taxpayer money funding the business case into the project, and despite $208 million put forward by the former Federal Coalition government, Minister Catherine King has cancelled what is an active, ongoing and vital project,” said Ms O’Keeffe.
“This is something our community has deeply feared, having lobbied for the Bypass for more than 20 years and seeing how critical that need was during the October 2022 floods when emergency services and freight could not move between Mooroopna and Shepparton.
“We only have the one river crossing which tries to navigate over 30,000 vehicles per day and growing. If an accident or indecent occurs on the Causeway, the impact is significant, shutting down the river crossing completely.
“It is astounding that Labor in announcing this cut has categorised the project as not demonstrating merit and lacking any national strategic rationale.
“This is astounding considering 25 per cent of the state’s trucks are registered in the Greater Shepparton District and we are one of the country’s largest and most successful agriculture and manufacturing suppliers with both national and global success. We are one of Australia’s most successful and progressive regions.
“I would have also thought community safety would have been merit. We have trucks constantly belting through the CBD of Shepparton and Mooroopna as well as all vehicles having to travel on a primitive unsafe road network.
“The longer this project has dragged on, the higher the negative impact on our communities, and it is another example of Labor leaving regional Victoria behind,” said Ms O’Keeffe.
The former Federal Coalition contributed $208 million after an initial $10.2 million was enshrined in the 2017-18 Victorian Budget for early works and finalisation of the business case. $10.2 million invested already in this project.
The 2023-24 Victorian Budget allocated $1 million for ‘planning the Shepparton Bypass and improving links in Shepparton’.
“Every day we see the waste and financial mismanagement of the Labor Government, and for too long our communities needs and priority projects have been ignored,” Ms O’Keeffe said.
“I recently wrote to the now-Premier and then- Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, as well as urging her in Parliament to ensure that this funding and the support for the Bypass would not be lost.
“I am appalled by the decision to cancel the Shepparton Bypass and that Labor cannot see the value in a Bypass for Shepparton.
“This is a vital project that is well overdue and would benefit not only our region, but the whole of Victoria and indeed the entire country that relies on our region’s productivity and economic benefit,” said Ms O’Keeffe.