ADJOURNMENT DEBATE ON ROADSIDE VEGETATION

My adjournment matter tonight is for the attention of the Minister for Roads, and it concerns roadside vegetation which grows uncontrollably across my region and our rural countryside. It threatens private property, wildlife and motorists and exacerbates bushfires. In particular I would like to draw upon recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, which included amending the state’s planning provisions to facilitate a broad range of roadside works to reduce bushfire risk, providing better guidance to municipal councils to help them resolve competing environmental and bushfire management objectives and ensuring VicRoads implements a systematic statewide assessment of bushfire risk for all roads.

Ten years on and this state is in a far worse situation than ever, with roadside vegetation totally out of control. Over 20 years ago roadsides were considered safe places. Recent ideologues have turned roadsides into wildlife corridors and conservation zones. This philosophy needs to be reversed for several reasons. Wildlife corridors become roadkill deathtraps. No farm animal escapee or native animal appreciates the need to look right, then left and right again before crossing the road, never mind the risk to human life and vehicles from accidents involving our animal population. The protection of native vegetation issue is always touted as a reason not to graze, burn or slash roadsides, but the greatest risk to native grasses is suffocation by introduced grasses like phalaris.

Out-of-control vegetation on roadsides obscures vision, hides unsuspecting animals and is a fire hazard. Recent fires in my area have proven that if roads are blocked through fallen trees or roadside vegetation safe movement is impossible, and lives can and have been lost when motorists and even firefighters are trapped on roads. Recent fires in our area resulted in a huge loss of property, livestock and livelihood due to roadside vegetation. They should not be seen as mini native forests; such plantings need to be reserved for state parks and farmlands.

I call on the minister to redress the danger to motorists, property and animals where out-of-control roadside vegetation occurs.

6 February 2019