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DAN TEHAN MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WANNON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
Sign the petition - Warrnambool and Port Fairy Offshore Wind Farm

FLOOD RECOVERY

November 11, 2022

HANSARD - FEDERATION CHAMBER - 10/11/2022 AT 12:05

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (12:05): I rise to talk on this motion, which commends all those who have helped and supported during the recent flooding and also, I think, needs to call on governments, local, state and federal, to ensure that they provide the much-needed support to local communities for their recovery. The impact of the floods in my electorate was very similar to the impact of the floods in 2011. There have been some exceptions, however. For Skipton, for Lexton and for Lake Goldsmith in particular, what we saw in 2022 was very similar to what we saw in 2011. The resilience of those communities in the way that they have dealt again with flooding has been quite extraordinary. At times like this, communities—and I'm talking about small communities—can go two ways. It can be either every man or woman for themselves or a community coming together, working together, to make sure that they deal together with the impact of the floods. In Lake Goldsmith, in Lexton and in Skipton, that is what we've seen again. As a matter of fact, it is quite inspirational to be able to go to those communities, to meet with those who have been impacted, to meet with those who have helped and supported them during their time of need and to see the camaraderie, to see the bonds of friendship and to see the way that this adversity is being dealt with collectively.

On the front line, as with all floods, has been the State Emergency Service, coordinating the response and making sure that where preparation has been necessary—where they've had time to prepare—it's been done in the most efficient and effective way possible. This work includes sandbagging, warning of residents and, in some instances, the ability to tell residents that they need to leave their households. That is coordinated by the SES, but it includes the CFA, local government and everyone else who is willing to play a part. But the coordination by the SES has been second to none, not only when it comes to Skipton, Lexton and Lake Goldsmith but also where there has been other flooding in my electorate—for instance, in Allansford, very near to Warrnambool or in Hamilton, where there was flash flooding. There we have seen the emergency services, led by the SES, and then local government and other community organisations coming together to make sure that the impact can be dealt with as well as we can deal with the impact of flooding.

Flooding, though, does leave a real legacy, and that is one of the sad things that we need to continue to remember. And all levels of government—federal, state and local—need to remember this because the water stays a lot longer than the help. The water stays, and the water, in many instances, will rot, from the ground up, houses. We have to make sure that we're there to help and support those who deal with the long-lasting legacy of a flood. We did it in 2011. We didn't do all the amelioration correctly, though, and we need to look at this now when it comes to these 2022 floods because if we don't get that right, we're going to see the impact again when the next flood occurs. Whether the amelioration is ensuring that drains are properly cleared and cleaned, whether it's making sure that roadside vegetation which is blocking drains is cleared away, whether it is ensuring that levees are properly completed—all these things need to be looked at and dealt with. We also have to make sure that the preparation begins as soon as the clean-up is over in these communities.

One of the lasting legacies—and we're seeing this more in Victoria as a result of what didn't occur as it should have in 2011 and what hasn't occurred between then and 2022—is that where the rains and the flooding have damaged the roads, we have to fix them properly. It is no good, and it is a waste of money just doing patch-up jobs. We have to do the job properly. That means real investment in our road network and in doing the job properly. I'll give you a recent example that I've just been made aware of in my electorate, where we've had a brand new patch of road which has since been impacted by a weather event that left potholes. A farmer was able to put his foot into one of the holes, and it went down as far as his hip. That is not fixing a road properly.

There is an article on the front page of the Herald Sun today which says that the cost of repairing the Victorian regional and rural road network will be over $1 billion. I say to the government; you have allocated $2.2 billion to Daniel Andrews's pet rail project, his urban rail link-up, which will probably be built sometime by 2050 maybe. It's going to cost, they seem to think, about $150 billion, so I'm not quite sure where the other $73 billion is going to come from. That's the 50-50 component of the federal government. This doesn't have a business case, and it hasn't been to Infrastructure Australia. Take that money, that $2.2 billion, that you have allocated in the budget to Dan Andrews's pet rail project, and put it into Victoria's road network. You know that it needs it. And, in doing that, also say to all the contractors that you use: 'We want you to do the job properly. We want you to take your time, put a proper foundation and a proper base into the roads and ensure that we're not going to need to patch them up sometimes only weeks after they've been reopened.' That would be something really practical that would leave a long-lasting legacy from this government to the people of regional and rural Victoria.

So far, all they've done is rip money out of regional and rural Victoria. In the budget, they ripped money out of regional and rural Victoria. This would be a way of saying: 'Sorry, we made a mistake. We shouldn't have done that, we shouldn't have done what we normally do, and that's going after and target regional and rural Victoria. We're not going to do this. It's not our modus operandi under this new government,' even though that's what we're seeing already. Take that $2.2 billion from Dan Andrews's pet rail project and put it into our road network. That, single-handedly, could make a huge difference to our communities because at the moment—and this is my great fear—we've seen a loss of life as a result of these floods. Fortunately, through the great work of SES, CFA, local government and others, we've seen that loss of life minimalised. My real concern is that we're going to see more loss of life as a result of the deteriorating road network right across rural and regional Victoria, and in particular in the seat of Wannon.

So I say to the government: this has become a serious, serious safety issue. It's no longer something that the Andrews government can just turn a blind eye to. It's not something that the federal government can turn a blind eye to. They need to fix these roads—otherwise, we're going to see more people lose their lives on our roads than we saw in the floods.

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Media contact | Sandie Gustus 0408 564 232