Three levels of government met with locals on Thursday to discuss the dangerous condition of Grain Valley Road.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson, Parkes MP Mark Coulton and Gunnedah shire deputy mayor Gae Swain went out to inspect the gravel road and heard from farmers David Rose and Mick Reynolds, Mullaley Public School P&C’s Sheryl Martin, and bus driver Russell Keam.
It was the deputy prime minister’s first visit to the Parkes electorate, with Mr Coulton bringing him to Mullaley to see the issue for himself. Mr McCormack is Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and will be working hand-in-hand with Mr Coulton who was recently named Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
“Just because you’re not big, doesn’t mean to say you’re not important,” Mr McCormack said.
“This is a pretty important logistical route.”
Mr McCormack said he also understood that there was an issue of safety for travellers and would work with Mr Coulton and Mr Anderson to see what could be done.
Mr Coulton said there was no doubt that the remaining 17.4 kilometres of gravel road needed to be sealed.
“I think it’s symbolic that we’re all out here looking at the road and I hope we can all do our bit to get it done,” he said.
Mr Anderson echoed his sentiments and said it must be a priority.
“This road has been a dog’s breakfast for a long time and there are only more cars going on it now,” he said.
“As a state, we’re going to do everything we possibly can to contribute what we can.
“If we all pull in the same direction, hopefully we’ll get some traction on this and get some bitumen poured on this road.”
Councillor Swain said the cost of sealing the rest of the road was about $8 million and it was something that Gunnedah Shire Council needed help to fund. This month, the council applied for funding under the federal government’s Heavy Vehicle and Productivity Program.
“We know rural communities live and breathe by the infrastructure… so this is an important thing for us,” she said.
“We certainly want to do whatever we can.”