Roadside Vegetation in Gippsland must be addressed

Out of control roadside vegetation must be addressed as Gippsland moves towards summer and the impending bushfire season.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region and Shadow Assistant Minster for Public Land Use Melina Bath has raised concerns about the ongoing poor standard of roadside vegetation control during State Parliament today.

Ms Bath today sought a commitment from the Andrews Labor Government’s Roads Minister to commit to an intensive slashing and vegetation removal program across the Eastern Victoria Region.

Ms Bath said unkept and uncleared roadsides significantly add to fuel loads, which act as a wick during bushfire events.

“Right throughout Gippsland we see burgeoning out of control long grass and weed species growing on our roadsides.

“Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their land cleared and fire safe, so it is time the Andrews Labor Government acted on its own directive and properly maintained our road sides.”

Ms Bath said in addition to the fuel loads during bushfire season, driver visibility was being impeded in a number of areas.

“Along the Strzelecki Highway between Morwell and Leongatha there are areas out of control roadside vegetation growth including large clumps of bamboo.

“There are patches of bamboo spanning up to three metres in height directly abutting the bitumen causing reduced visibility for motorists.

“Bamboo is an invasive weed species and traffic hazard and has real potential to invade prime agricultural land along the highway.”

Ms Bath said after the last two summers with significant bushfire impacting Gippsland, the Andrews Labor Government should have learned lessons around the importance of fuel reduction.

“It is critical that the Andrews Government properly resources VicRoads to get on top of slashing and management of roadside vegetation to mitigate fire risk.

“The CFA estimates that roadside slashing decreases any potential flame height by half, and when maintained it is easier to extinguish fires quickly.

“Fuel reduction saves lives and many Gippslanders are demanding an increase in greater fuel reduction on road sides and throughout our public land.

“The Andrews Labor Government must stop cutting corners, address roadside vegetation and the safety issues it’s creating.”