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12 March 1991 - Current

Page 4218
13 November 2019
ASSEMBLY Questions without notice and ministers statements Jacinta Allan
Ms ALLAN (Bendigo East—Leader of the House, Minister for Transport Infrastructure) (11:34:37): I thank the Independent member for Shepparton for her question. As we have seen over the last five years since we have had an Independent member for Shepparton, there are actually issues about infrastructure in Shepparton getting raised in this place, so I am very pleased to address— Mr Merlino interjected. Ms ALLAN: The Deputy Premier has interjected that it beats pathetic representation. It sure does beat the pathetic representation the Shepparton community had for 90 years from the National Party. Anyway, I digress. The member for Shepparton quite understandably wants to know, and is eager to know on behalf of her community, the progress that is being made on the business case. As the Premier has also reminded me, this business case has been funded by our government in previous budgets. I can advise the member for Shepparton that that work on the business case is ongoing. A project of this size and scale and importance does require careful planning, and we are working closely with the community to get that planning right because whether it is road or rail, each project comes with a different range of complexities, and there are some complexities that have been identified through the business case and work that has been done to date. I am advised that there is significant work that needs to be done to ensure that the relevant environmental and cultural heritage issues in particular are addressed through the business case, so that work is ongoing. I know that there had previously been some optimism that that business case would be completed towards the end of this year. I am advised that it is not likely to be until next year because of these issues that have been identified. It also highlights why it is important to do careful planning and development of major and important projects like this—that you identify some of these challenges and you go through rigorous business case planning and development to work on these issues. I can advise the member for Shepparton that Major Road Projects Victoria will be conducting soon its second meeting with the project liaison group to provide some further information directly to the local community. That includes representatives from councils, local landowners and key groups, and so we will continue to keep the Independent member for Shepparton, the local community and indeed the federal government, who I know also have an interest in this project, informed of the progress of the business case. However, I will underscore the point that it is important that we undertake this planning, do the rigorous planning process, to identify any issues. You would rather identify them now in this planning stage than have them uncovered during the construction phase when it is much more difficult to address, so we will continue to work through those issues with the Shepparton community.