TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is also for the Minister for
Planning, Justin Madden. Can the minister update the house on how the Brumby
Labor government is taking action to deliver its commitment to improve
infrastructure, particularly in regional Victoria?
J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) — I welcome Ms Tierney’s interest in
this matter. I know this is specific to her local area, so no doubt she will be
very keen to hear this answer. I welcome her support for this matter.
I would like to update the house on how the Brumby Labor
government has taken action to ensure that the historic bridge at Barwon Heads
is reconstructed to provide safety and amenity to the local community.
This project, as we have said on many occasions, is too
important for the local community at Barwon Heads to allow the opposition or the
Greens, or whoever else, to use it as a political football. Stopping this
project will rob the community of its entitlement to certainty when it comes to
a safe crossing and an improved link. Therefore — —
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — I take up the interjection from Mr Drum,
because this is a regional project.
If ever there was a project that The Nationals should have
supported in regional Victoria, as opposed to hanging onto the shirt tails of
the Liberal opposition, it should have been this one, because we had no choice
but to request that the Governor in Council issue an order under section 16 of
the Planning and Environment Act to exempt the Barwon Heads bridge from the
constraints placed upon it by the reckless actions of the Liberal Party and the
I am pleased to say that this project can now proceed with
certainty and as it was intended under the already-issued statutory coastal and
heritage approvals. This project will redevelop the historic bridge to cater for
vehicle traffic. A second bridge will be built to accommodate pedestrian traffic
and cyclists as well as the fishermen who might want to dangle their lines off
that pedestrian bridge.
In 2005 VicRoads found the bridge had only about four to six
years of life left unless significant rehabilitation works were undertaken to
address serious structural problems, but we know that did not concern the
opposition. Now the existing bridge will feature many of the heritage characteristics whilst
allowing VicRoads to meet essential safety and load-bearing requirements.
Community consultation on the Barwon Heads bridge proposal was
comprehensive and extensive, and it provided the community with numerous
opportunities to make written and verbal submissions.
Mr Drum interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — Let us go into the detail for Mr Drum.
Four public forums were held as well as a week-long public display. There was a
series of information bulletins and, newspaper advertisements, and a round table
discussion was held with key stakeholders.
With projects such as these there will always be a variety of
local views, but now the whole community down at Barwon Heads can be guaranteed
of certainty, knowing that the bridge will be built and that it will provide
safety and amenity for the local community.
Not only did the opposition and the Greens try to jeopardise
public safety by trying to stop this bridge and ignore heritage but also, in the
midst of the global financial crisis, they were trying to deny new jobs in
Mr Drum interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — How does Mr Drum sleep at night, trying to
deny regional Victoria its right to new jobs? We will not let this happen. This
is another example of the Brumby Labor government taking action for regional
We know for many years the albatross for regional Victoria was
The Nationals, and it still is. We are delivering on our election commitments,
securing jobs and continuing to make Victoria the best place to live, work,
invest and raise a family.