Grains sector calls for urgent road fix

26 Feb 2018, 4:01 p.m.

The poor condition of Victoria’s rural roads is taking a heavy toll on the transport fleet of one of Victoria’s biggest truck operators, a Geelong grains conference has been told.

Riordan Grains managing director Jim Riordan told the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Grains Conference, in Geelong, the state’s roads were falling well below even average standards.

“We replace every shock absorber, on every truck we own, every 12 months,” Mr Riordan said.

“That’s only happened in the last two years.

“We have found we are getting failures in equipment we have never seen before.”

We have found we are getting failures in equipment we have never seen before.– Jim Riordan, Riordan Grains managing director

He said the sole reason the company had to replace the shock absorbers, which used to last three years, was the state of Victoria’s roads.

“We are not carrying any more weight, it’s purely a maintenance issue. They are the same shock absorbers we have been using for the last 10 years.”

Mr Riordan called for a major injection of funds for the regional road network.

“It’s not just the dual lanes, but the major roads, like those out of Skipton, Hamilton, out in the Green Triangle and the Portland zone,” Mr Riordan said.

“Maybe some of the politicians need to take a look at what their responsibilities are, in relationship to the asset the state owns.

“Roads need to be kept to a minimum standard, so at least they are not making our vehicles unroadworthy.”

He said poor roads had also resulted in transport operators limiting the volume to 68.5 tonnes of freight.

The poor conditions of Victoria’s road network was raised by VFF grains group president Ross Johns and several speakers.

Mr Johns said poor roads were having an impact on safety for all Victorians.

“Most trucks are roadworthy, but jeez, most of the roads are untruckworthy,” Mr Johns said, in his opening address.

He called for the State Government to abide by its ‘Chain of Responsibility’ laws as the state’s roads were not fit for purpose.

“We have to keep pushing (the issue) because the government is not pulling its weight,” he said.

“They have an expectation on us, we should have an expectation on government.”

Tarranyurk farmer Marshall Rodda said Victoria’s roads were “an absolute disgrace”.

“We need a strong commitment from the government to start fixing those rural roads, to get our produce to ports efficiently,” Mr Rodda said.

“These roads are wrecking our trucks.”

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said she had heard the message.

“I will take that very clear message back to my colleagues,” Ms Pulford said. “I know there is more for us to do.”