Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Bridge money committment needed from state, federal governments

Member for Murray Sharman Stone would like to see the Victorian Government fund any shortfall for building of the Echuca-Moama bridge.

TRENT HORNEMAN February 1, 2013 4:19am

Member for Murray Sharman Stone believes the Victorian Government should be responsible for funding any shortfall in building a second Murray River crossing in Echuca-Moama.

With Prime Minister Julia Gillard announcing a September 14 federal election on Wednesday, the Liberal member will push whichever party is elected to reinstate a $15million Federal Government promise made in 1998.

She said while she would like the Coalition to commit more because of inflation in the past 15 years, she would at least like the original cash put back on the table.

‘‘The Federal Government of the day gave a $15million gift for the Echuca-Moama community. A couple of years ago the government, sick of waiting, pulled the funding,’’ she said.

‘‘When the money was handed out in 1998, there were three bridges funded. Two, under control of the NSW Government (Corowa and Robinvale) were promptly built, while one in the hands of the Victorian Government (Echuca) was continually stalled.’’

Dr Stone said the state governments were previously responsible for the land approaches to the bridge, while the Federal Government was responsible for the cost of the bridge span.

‘‘The $15million allocated at the time would have been enough to cover the cost of building the bridge,’’ she said.

‘‘I think the state governments should be responsible for meeting the extra cost...I would like to be able to commit more for the bridge, but the current Labor Government is spending money like a drunken sailor.’’

Liberal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley also vowed to keep the Federal Government, whatever the party, to its $15million undertaking once the Victorian Government had adopted its preferred route.

She stopped short of Dr Stone’s desire to have the Victorian Government cover all the shortfall.

‘‘When the federal funding slipped away in 2007 I wrote to Minister Anthony Albanese to honour the commitment once planning was complete,’’ she said.

‘‘I will be keeping the government to that undertaking when the time comes.

‘‘Between the three governments everyone wants to see the bridge built.

‘‘In the end I think that goodwill will prevail. The three governments need to sit down and come to a consensus as to who pays for it,’’ she said.

Member for Rodney Paul Weller said he was unsure when Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy would make a final decision on the government’s desired route.

He said the Victorian Government would approach the Federal Government to help meet the financial costs.

‘‘The Victorian Government has made the second crossing for Echuca-Moama as a priority and will approach Infrastructure Australia for funding in the 2014-19 period,’’ he said.

‘‘I would hope that the Federal Member for Murray would support us with that.’’

Last year the NSW Government allocated about $60million from its Bridges for the Bush program towards the Echuca-Moama bridge.

The Bridges for the Bush program is jointly funded by the Federal Government.

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