THE Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, says it’s a slap in the face that Gippslanders are stuck with poor roads such as the South Gippsland, Strzelecki and Hyland Highways while Daniel Andrews forces them to pay for his West Gate Tunnel deal.
Mr O’Brien said drivers going into Melbourne via CityLink will take a hip pocket hit after the Andrews Labor Government signed a “secretive deal” with Transurban that will increase tolls to pay for a completely different new road – the West Gate Tunnel.
The Parliamentary Budget Office has released a report into the West Gate Tunnel Project and CityLink tolls which estimates the deal struck by the Andrews Labor Government will cost motorists an extra $37.3 billion in tolls, according to Mr O’Brien.
The MP said the analysis shows that $26.5 billion of that increase (around 71 per cent) will come exclusively from CityLink users including Gippsland drivers who use the tollway when coming into the city via the Monash Freeway.
“There has been some good work in patches this summer on our roads, but many are still in appalling condition and the Premier for Melbourne is making us help pay for city infrastructure that most Gippslanders won’t ever use,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is gobsmacking that after cutting funding to fix country roads, Daniel Andrews is slugging country drivers to pay for his Melbourne tunnel deal.”
Last year and again this month, Labor MPs refused to support a Nationals amendment to the Transport Legislation Amendment Bill that would have increased funding for country roads.
Mr O’Brien said the cost of doing business would also skyrocket because of Labor’s deal.
“Commercial vehicles already pay higher tolls, so any movement of fresh produce or freight that goes across the state via Melbourne will also cost more with Labor’s toll increases.
“With ongoing drought conditions and little-to-no financial support from the Andrews Labor Government, the last thing farmers and regional businesses need is escalating costs, but that’s exactly what the Premier for Melbourne’s dodgy Transurban deal delivers.”