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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15582


Mr PEARCE (2:13 PM) —My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services. Would the Deputy Prime Minister update the House on the current status of Roads of National Importance, particularly in Victoria? Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware of any alternative policies relating to specific roads of national importance?


Mr ANDERSON (Minister for Transport and Regional Services) —I thank the honourable member for his question and note his particular interest in it and his very hard lobbying to ensure a fair deal for people in his part of Melbourne. We do run a program called RONI—Roads of National Importance—which gives us an avenue over and above the national highway to fund roads which will directly benefit Australia and to particularly address local needs. As a government, we can point to the upgrading of the Pacific Highway, which I think every Australian would now agree has been a major and worthwhile program. I hear a lot of people saying, `It's great to see major national infrastructure projects going on.' The Pacific Highway project is worth about $3½ billion—almost of the order of the Snowy Mountains scheme. Then there is the recently completed Geelong Road, better linking the growing economies of Melbourne and Geelong. The member for La Trobe, of course, acknowledges the importance of the Pakenham bypass.

I want to come to a very important point. Of all of the roads of national importance in Victoria—three-quarters of a billion dollars worth—not one of them would have attracted one red cent under Labor, because they did not have a program like this. Having said that, I have to say that I am extraordinarily disappointed that the Scoresby Freeway is now in serious jeopardy. Out of the $750-plus million we have made available in Victoria, there is $425 million for the Scoresby Freeway—but it was to be a freeway, not a tollway. We went as far as to write into a formal agreement with Victoria that it would be a freeway, not a tollway. That was signed without any duress at all by the Victorian Minister for Transport. We want to keep that promise. We have frozen the funding; it is available to be picked up when Victoria agree with the terms of the MOU that we signed with them. The Victorian Labor government does not want us to keep our promise. Not only do the Labor Party feel that it is okay to break their promise to people in Victoria; we are still waiting for any indication from the other side that they think this is an issue that matters and that they believe they ought to come clean.

I call on the Victorian government to fulfil its commitment and deliver the freeway that it promised. I was asked about alternative policies. It is interesting that the member for Aston should ask. A couple of weeks ago, at the time of the budget, I stood here in this House and challenged the Leader of the Opposition to make his position clear. I challenged him to state whether he supports a toll on the Scoresby Freeway and whether or not he thinks it is okay to break a written commitment. We have not heard anything yet.


Mr Martin Ferguson —You supported a toll on the national highway!


Mr ANDERSON —What about the member for Batman? Do you support it? I heard yesterday that the member for Aston launched a bumper sticker, which I suspect will sell very well down in Melbourne and all over Victoria. It is very simple. It says, `Scoresby—no toll'. I thought the Leader of the Opposition might like one, and I challenge him to put it on his car. I will send it around after question time.