RIPON MP Louise Staley has labelled planning delays for the Western Highway duplication from Buangor to Ararat as “unacceptable”.
“The people of Stawell and Ararat deserve to have this project finished,” Ms Staley said.
She also claimed that landowners were being left in limbo and the state government’s public statements about the issue were at odds with what was being submitted to parliament.
Last week Ms Staley used time in parliament for airing members’ grievances to continue her search for more information about the duplication project, which has been plagued with court challenges and planning issues.
“There is bipartisan support at both the federal and state levels to duplicate the Western Highway from Ballarat to Stawell,” Ms Staley said.
“Under the previous government large sections of that highway were completed and the final section of the road from Beaufort to Buangor was being built as this government came to power.
“Since then not only have we had a problem with Buangor to Ararat, which is very complex — the fact that planning permit has expired is entirely unacceptable and needs to be fixed — but this government has also not gone to the federal government and got the required additional money.”
Ms Staley also told parliament that landowners at Great Western had been waiting with pegs marking areas on their property for the bypass but nothing had happened.
“These people are in limbo. They cannot sell or upgrade their farms because it has not been determined that that is where the road will go through,” Ms Staley said.
In response to Ms Staley’s queries last month, Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the project was moving forward.
“We're delivering this much needed duplication to support communities and the regional economy across Western Victoria,” he said.
“VicRoads’ submission is being considered by the Minister for Planning.”
In a written response to Ms Staley, Planning Minister Richard Wynne stated he was still considering the request.
“While acknowledging that planning controls were previously in place for the duplication of the Western Highway between Bunagor and Ararat, this request must be considered on its merits once all the required information is made available and has been assessed,” Mr Wynne stated to parliament.
“I expect to determine this request shortly.”
During parliament last week, Ms Staley referenced a number of recent vehicle incidents and truck rollovers on the Western Highway, including a crash that claimed the life of a father and daughter from Bulgana.
“These incidents were as a result of this road not being in suitable condition,” Ms Staley said.
“This government needs to get on and finish duplicating the Western Highway. It is a bipartisan project. I do not understand why they do not do it.”