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October 20, 2009

The Princes Highway east of Sale is one of the most dangerous roads in Victoria and Federal funding is required to protect the lives of local motorists and visitors to the region, according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester spoke of the dangerous state of the highway in Federal Parliament yesterday after the Transport Minister refused to provide advice about how the road can be listed as a Road of National Importance to secure additional funds.

“Since 2004, there have been 24 fatalities and many serious injuries on the section of the Princes Highway from Sale to the New South Wales border,” Mr Chester said.

“The safety of local residents and visitors to East Gippsland is being compromised by the condition of the highway.”

Mr Chester referred to reports by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), which call for highway upgrades as a result of low star ratings under the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP).

Mr Chester’s comments stem from the RACV’s ‘Safer Roads Save Lives’ report which refers to the Princes Highway east, stating:

‘RACV believes that three stars are unacceptable on these important, heavily trafficked national highways and upgrades are urgently required to bring them up to four stars in the short term and five stars in the longer term.’

“The RACV has repeatedly called on State and Federal Governments to increase funding for upgrading the highway, given its current two-star and three-star ranking under the AusRAP,” Mr Chester said.

“The star ratings highlight the failure to improve safety on this stretch of highway and as AusRAP has indicated in previous reports, safer roads have the potential to save as many lives as safer vehicles and improved driver behaviour combined.”

Mr Chester repeated his call to the Federal Transport Minister to work with the Gippsland community to improve the condition of the road so that the disproportionate number of accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries can be prevented in the future.

“Too many people are losing loved ones on East Gippsland’s roads,” Mr Chester said.

“The stress and trauma of road accidents affects vast numbers of my community.

“I repeat my appeal to the Minister to work with my community to have the highway listed as a Road of National Importance to help secure additional funding for much-needed road safety upgrades.”