Hattah-Robinvale Road and Robinvale-Sea Lake Roads

CRISP (Mildura) — I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. The action I seek is for the widening of Hattah-Robinvale Road and Robinvale-Sea Lake Road in my electorate to occur. These are category C roads, and the reasons these roads get used have changed very rapidly in recent years. There have been substantial plantings of almonds and olives alongside them; however, the processing plants that value-add to these exports are in fact some distance away. It takes 9000 to 10 000 truck movements to shift the almonds, there is citrus that comes from down the road and there are wine grapes, olives, table grapes, carrots and grain in the area.

All of these are valuable products, and they come along roads that as a category C roads were probably not designed to carry much more than a 10-tonne grain truck a long time ago, so we have issues of safety. Parts of these roads are used for a school bus route. With this much truck traffic there are issues with stones and, as always, when trucks pass by, people notice that the edges of the roads are chipped away and that there are gutters in the shoulders. So what is really needed is for the shoulders to be widened — for 1 or 1.2 metres of bitumen to be added along the edges — and for the centre-line to be relocated to give us roads that are fit for the traffic they carry.

As road damage occurs continually, this is very much a case of the sooner the better for this work to be done. It is not going to get any cheaper to do, and in fact the roads are continually getting damaged. The community and I have been advocating for a widening of the bitumen to provide more room for vehicles to pass one another and to preserve the shoulders for some time to come. The time has now come to do this. There is going to be future growth in this area. The market for almonds continues to be sound, as is the market for a number of other horticultural products, in particular table grapes and olives. There will be more plantings, there will be more workers needed to service all of those orchards and processing plants, and there will be more exports. Robinvale-Sea Lake Road in particular is used to take our valuable table grapes in containers to the port of Melbourne.

What the minister can do is come up with a program to see the shoulders widened and the bitumen sealed to give us roads fit to carry the exports that create jobs in my electorate.

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