Jaclyn Symes to James Purcell: No need to split up VicRoads funding

Northern Victoria MP Jaclyn Symes

Northern Victoria MP Jaclyn Symes

An upper house MP’s radical idea to splice VicRoads into separate organisations for city and country areas has been dismissed by Jaclyn Symes as a “burden”.

Western Victoria MP James Purcell rose in State Parliament last week to call on the government to invest more money to fix the “terrible state” of roads in his electorate.

“VicRoads have, in my mind, failed country Victoria and you can see that that becomes more of an issue the further you get away from Melbourne,” he said.

“The roads are unsafe and therefore tonight I urge the minister to give country Victoria a chance by splitting VicRoads into two distinct operations, being city roads and country roads.”

But Labor’s Northern Victoria MP Ms Symes has defended her party’s investment in country road improvements.

“While governments of all persuasions are constantly looking at getting the most of their government departments and reducing costs, splitting an organisation and duplicating the roles and responsibilities would be a significant cost burden on Northern Victoria taxpayers,” she told The Border Mail.

“I am working closely with VicRoads, local councils and government ministers to ensure that appropriate funding is secured.

“The  Andrews Labor government is making regional roads safer and more efficient and that's why we're investing $51.6 million for new overtaking lanes on key arterial roads in regional Victoria and $340m to address known crash black spots on more than 2500 kilometres of regional roads.”

Western Victoria MP James Purcell

Western Victoria MP James Purcell

The state of country roads has become an issue in recent weeks after heavy rainfall and flooding damaged road surfaces.

VicRoads was set to start repairs when the weather cleared up.

Ms Symes said the government had promised to invest $130m to replace road surfaces and pavements on critical routes, with 85 per cent to be spent on arterial roads and freight routes in regional Victoria.

Mr Purcell told Fairfax Media last week his idea was borne out of frustration at decades of inaction over the poor state of South West roads.

“By repeating what you do, you don’t improve, so you need to change,” he said.

“It’s time we had a serious look at the way it actually operates … it isn’t necessarily about more money, it’s better value for money and to be spent on roads that it needs to be spent on.”