6 May 2022
McKoy St overpass a Morrison Government failure three years on
On the three-year anniversary of Scott Morrison’s commitment to Wodonga residents to build an overpass at the notorious McKoy Street intersection on the Hume Freeway, Helen Haines said the stalled project showed the Coalition talked big at election time but fails to follow through.
On 7 May 2019 during the last federal election campaign, Scott Morrison flew into Wodonga to announce a $64 million election promise on behalf of the Coalition to build the overpass. This was more than doubled to a $168 million commitment from the Coalition in the 2020 federal budget. Together with Victorian Government funding the total cost is $210 million.
However, the Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines said Parliamentary Budget Office advice she commissioned and published on 29 March confirmed that just 2 per cent of the $168 million Coalition promise has been spent and a shovel had not hit the ground three years on.
“This was the single biggest election promise to Indi in the 2019 election from the Liberal and National parties and it’s nowhere to be seen,” Haines said.
“The Coalition promised us this funding would ‘fast-track’ the upgrade. It has done the opposite. According to Coalition’s own budget papers, the project won’t start for another 18 months, and won’t be complete until May 2025.”
“That’s another three years of Wodonga residents, commuters, local businesses and freight companies navigating a dangerous intersection every day. The intersection was dangerous then and it’s dangerous now.”
Haines criticised the claims made by the Morrison Government that the upgrade would be a jobs bonanza to the region.
“The Government said the project would create over 520 local jobs, which would be critically important as the border region recovered from the economic impacts of the bushfires, COVID and border closures. These jobs have also failed to materialise.”
Haines noted the Federal Government blamed the Victorian State Government for the delays.
“The lack of progress on this project over the past three years is an indictment on the Andrews Labor Government too and shows the toxic impact of party politics.
“We’re sick of buck-passing between the federal and state governments on our infrastructure needs. Wodonga residents using the intersection are caught in the middle.”
“The Federal Government was very happy to make a lot of fanfare when they announced this funding commitment at election time. But here we are at another election and still no overpass.
“This is why the people of Indi should be wary of any shiny promises made to them by the Government in an attempt to buy their votes.
“I have followed this up with the government, including commissioning the audit by the Parliamentary Budget Office that revealed how little work had been done.”
Haines said safety concerns had featured heavily in a survey conducted by the Victorian Government, with 80% of respondents labelling safety at the intersection “poor” or “very poor”.
“This intersection is an accident waiting to happen. We need it fixed now.”
Helen Haines said the High Speed Rail Business Case promised in 2019 by the Wodonga-based Senator Bridget McKenzie, which was due in December 2021, would also not be delivered until after the election.
“The people of Wodonga are telling me they are disappointed that the government is missing in action on these two major infrastructure announcements,” Haines said.
“This shows the Government will talk big in the lead up to an election, but they don’t follow through. That’s why you need an independent to call it out,” Haines said.