Botched department merger ends in tears

This afternoon’s report in the Herald Sun confirms something again that everybody knows – the Andrews Labor Government is incapable of managing Victoria’s road network.

Since the poorly-implemented merger of the Department of Transport and VicRoads in July 2019, things have gone from bad to worse.

Labor’s mismanagement of VicRoads, through inadequate oversight and funding, has seen the state’s road network in the worst condition they have been for decades. There is no funding or plan for preventative road maintenance and no clear strategy on how to prioritise or allocate funding to maintenance projects, and the recent Auditor General report has already highlighted they botched the wire rope barrier rollout.

Now, staff are walking off the job over pay and conditions. According to the report, positions that were vacant at the time of the merger are still vacant, and experienced staff are leaving in droves. However, the Andrews Labor Government is too busy with internal politics to fix the mess.

Report after report from the Auditor-General has slammed VicRoads for inadequate oversight of contractors, the use of weak data for decision making and things as simple as not keeping track of where they install different barrier types. Responses to Freedom of Information requests made to the Department are routinely delayed on purpose – in some cases just ignored for months on end – and often come back with pages and pages of redactions.

Daniel Andrews had a chance to stop the damage when he demoted Jaala Pulford. Instead, he installed Ben Carroll, who had an appalling record as Minister for Youth Justice.

When will the Andrews Labor Government wake up and do something to give the Victorian public a roads agency that will function effectively?

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Roads (Metropolitan), Brad Battin:

“Reports of industrial action by employees within the Department of Transport, sadly, come as no surprise when you look at the track record of those in charge.

“Daniel Andrews has been too busy protecting his position from those within his own party to do anything to fix the mess he has created.

“Minister Carroll oversaw alarming increases in violence against Youth Justice workers, massive blowouts in budgets and staff costs, and an astronomical reoffending rate amongst youth justice inmates that is the highest in the country.

“The only way to affect the systematic change required is a change of Government. Only the Liberal Nationals will take control to improve the state of Victoria’s road network.”

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