More Western Highway funding might be coming.
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That’s the message from both state and federal governments ahead of their upcoming budgets.
Speaking at the official opening of the Beaufort to Buangor duplication project and Buangor bypass, Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said they had raised the next section without funding – Ararat to Stawell – with the federal government but would not be drawn on state spending.
“Until the budget’s out I can’t honestly (provide an answer),” he said.
But Mr Donnellan also said voters of the region were looking to the Turnbull government for support on the project.
“We’ve got a federal election at the moment, I’m sure (the next stage) is front and centre of people’s minds,” he said.
The $662 million 21-kilometre stretch officially opened on Thursday was funded by state and federal governments.
The next stretch to Ararat has been funded and is open for expressions of interest.
When quizzed on whether the May 3 federal budget would have any money for the project Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said it was up to her government colleagues in cabinet.
“The budget is being handed down on the third of May and I hope that regional Victoria gets their fair share of infrastructure funding, particularly for our roads in the announcement that the minister will make,” she said.
“Like anybody else, I’ll have to wait until the third of May.”
But Senator McKenzie made clear the government was being pushed to get on board.
“Today I’ve been made very very clear the need for a Beaufort bypass and indeed for funding for successive chunks…of this highway, to the South Australian border.”
“I tell you what this community can be very very proud of, the strong advocates they have in their local councillors and mayors.”
Western Highway Action Committee Chairman and North Grampians Councillor Kevin Erwin said they were meeting with Transport Minister Darren Chester before the budget.
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