The Nationals Member for Shepparton District, Kim O’Keeffe, has expressed concerns about the rising number of compensation claims for vehicle damage due to poor road conditions in Victoria, particularly highlighting the alarmingly low number of claims being paid.
Recent data reveals a 414% increase in these claims over three years, with the number of claims in regional Victoria, including Shepparton, soaring from 80 in 2020/21 to 188 the following year followed by 463 in 2022/23.
Despite this, only 2 of the 731 regional claims during this period have been assessed as payable, highlighting a systemic issue in addressing road maintenance and compensation.
In the last financial year alone, the number of claims across Victoria rose to 1532, yet just four were deemed payable.
It is appalling that drivers are having to deal with damaged vehicles.
This situation is worsened by significant cuts in road maintenance funding, with a 45% reduction since 2020, including a 25% cut in this year’s budget.
Such reductions in funding have led to a significant deterioration in road conditions, particularly in regional areas, contributing to the increased frequency of vehicle damage.
Ms O’Keeffe expressed particular concern regarding the response from the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Melissa Horne, who attributed the road damage to last year’s flood events.
“The Minister’s attribution of road damage solely to flood events is not only an oversimplification but also overlooks the fact that many of the affected areas experienced no flood impact,” Ms O’Keeffe said.
Ms O’Keeffe said that the minister fails to acknowledge the underlying problems of road maintenance neglect, which is the huge reduction in road maintenance repairs.
“The fact that so few claims are being compensated, despite the clear increase in road-related damage, is unacceptable,” Ms O’Keeffe said.
“Our communities, especially in regional Victoria, are suffering due to a broader trend of neglect in road maintenance.”
The concern is further heightened by the high threshold for damage claims, set at $1580, which leaves many drivers unable to receive compensation.
This, coupled with a $230 million cut from road safety programs in the past two years, as revealed by the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), indicates a worrying trend of underinvestment in critical infrastructure.
“The current situation with our roads in Victoria, is not just about infrastructure; it’s about the livelihood and safety of our communities,” Ms O’Keeffe said.
“When our residents face damage to their vehicles due to poorly maintained roads and then struggle to receive due compensation, it reflects a failure of governance and a disregard for public welfare.
“We need a road system that serves the safety and needs of all Victorians, not one that leaves them stranded with damage and no support.”