Appropriate roadside clearing must continue in the coming months to ensure the unacceptable road closures and township isolations that occurred this bushfire season do not happen again.
This is the message from Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who spoke on the matter in State Parliament last week.
“To have the Princes Highway and Monaro Highway closed for over a month is something than cannot occur again. It brings our economy to its knees when this occurs,” said Mr Bull.
“We also cannot have communities isolated for weeks at a time, simply because we will not clear the roadsides appropriately.”
Mr Bull said that in recent weeks some terrific roadside clearing had taken place on the Princes Highway, but much more needed to be done to remove the situation where burnt trees can close the highway for long periods.
“We simply have to clear back at least one tree length on our major roads like the Princes and Monaro Highways and Great Alpine Road.
“Of equal importance are the coastal communities where there is one road in and out. If we clear them accordingly the roads will be open much quicker.
“It’s all about balance. We have some great National Parks in East Gippsland and these should be maintained, but we cannot have roads closed, and communities cut off for so long.
“Some freight businesses were losing $100,000 per week during the road closures and we had residents of coastal communities who could not return home.
“It also kills the tourism sector as people just cannot get to holiday destinations. Bemm River for instance lost a major fishing competition the local community was relying on because the participants could not get there. That is just one example.
“I have raised this matter in Parliament and also asked the Roads Minister to ensure she continues the work that our timber contractors have started.”