Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan encouraged open discussion and welcomed having ‘the difficult conversations’ at a recent meeting with Committee for Gippsland members.
Minister Allan spoke about the Victorian Government’s regional rail revival investment, a joint investment with the Commonwealth of $530m with construction commencing on the new Avon River Bridge at Stratford, followed next year by track duplication and station upgrades at key locations.
According to Jane Oakley CEO of the Committee for Gippsland, discussion regarding the importance of freight and passenger rail services and connectivity in Gippsland was high on the agenda for many around the table.
“It goes without saying that transport is vital to communities, business and industry and the Committee for Gippsland membership was keen to ensure the challenges and opportunities facing Gippsland, now and into the future, were being considered at all levels.
“Quality rail infrastructure, reliable services, and connection to key freight terminals are all essential to Gippsland’s social and economic health and growth; we were pleased Minister Allan was open to the candid discussion facilitated by the meeting,” added Ms Oakley.
Minister Allan also heard concerns from the gathering relating to the need for local procurement by government to allow regional business to have a greater role in the supply chain. The significance and ongoing tenure of the Dutson Downs asbestos facility and the current situation facing the forestry industry, associated businesses and rural communities were key items for discussion with the Minister.
“This isn’t a time to be shy about voicing our concerns, our insights and our aspirations for the future of our region,” Ms Oakley reinforced. “It’s important for Gippsland to be on ministerial agendas and we look forward to working further with Minister Allan and others to make this happen.”