Kim O’KEEFFE (Shepparton) (19:14): (467) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, and the action I seek is that the minister meet with me and the Greater Shepparton City Council to discuss the future of the Shepparton bypass. This would be an opportunity for the minister to see the design of stage 1 of the Shepparton bypass and to come to the region to get an understanding of the desperate need for this critical project for the region.
On 16 November the federal infrastructure minister released findings of the federal government infrastructure review announcing that stage 1 of the Shepparton bypass project funding would be removed.
$208 million had been committed by the former federal coalition government. The Victorian government already committed $10.2 million of taxpayer money in the 2017–18 Victorian budget for early works and finalisation of the business case, and the 2023–24 Victorian budget allocated $1 million for planning of the Shepparton bypass and improving links to Shepparton. This is an active project that the state government have supported and financially committed to.
It was outstanding to hear the federal infrastructure minister state the project has not demonstrated merit. This is astounding also considering 25 per cent of the state’s trucks are registered in the Greater Shepparton region and the Shepparton region is the only major regional city across the state that does not have a bypass. We are one of the largest and most successful agriculture, manufacturing and industry suppliers, with both national and global success. I would have also thought that community safety would have been a merit. We have a constant convoy of trucks belting through the CBDs of Shepparton and Mooroopna and vehicles having to navigate daily on a primitive, unsafe road network.
Having lobbied for the bypass for more than three decades as a community priority project and seen how critical the need was during the October 2022 floods, when our only river crossing was shut down, disconnecting the towns of Shepparton and Mooroopna – which was also raised by many in the flood inquiry – the local council have the Shepparton bypass as a community priority project. It is critical the minister has a full understanding of the importance of stage 1 of the Shepparton bypass, and again I ask the minister to meet with me and the Greater Shepparton City Council.