Victoria’s Liberal-Nationals opposition is hoping to woo voters with a $1 billion country roads maintenance promise, made the same day the coalition took a hit in the polls.
Dubbed a “road fix blitz” the 10-year program includes $400 million for the country roads and bridges program, $400 million for targeted road restoration and $200 million for general road maintenance.
“The road repairs that have been done haven’t been done properly, they’ve been done on the cheap,” Opposition Leader Matthew Guy told reporters on Tuesday, near Warrnambool.
“We’ll make it a $100 million program each and every year and it won’t take away a cent from any capital works funding.”
The policy is based on a 2017 auditor-general report finding insufficient road maintenance funding was compounded by VicRoads not demonstrating effective use of the cash it gets.
Tuesday’s promise came as a Newspoll published by The Australian increased Labor’s lead over the coalition, 54 per cent to 46 per cent, on a two-party preferred basis.
The result follows months of leadership turmoil for the federal Liberals and came a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited the region without joining Mr Guy.
“Newspoll is an aggregate over a period of time; let’s not take these polls as fact,” Mr Guy said.
“I’ve seen all the political conspiracy theories this morning as to why I didn’t meet the prime minister. I’ve got breaking news – I have met him. I’ve got more breaking news – I’ve done announcements with him.”
The two men jointly made a rail announcement in September but haven’t been seen together since.
The latest Newspoll also had Daniel Andrews ahead as preferred premier on 45 per cent to Mr Guy’s 29 per cent. Labor’s primary vote is 41 per cent against the coalition’s 39 per cent.
Despite the boost to Mr Andrews and Labor, the premier would not be drawn on the results, telling reporters in the marginal seat of Morwell he never takes “anything in my life or my political career for granted”.
Mr Andrews was in the electorate, currently held by National-turned-Independent Russell Northe and which has been hit by a wave of recent job losses, to announce government support for automotive technology firm SEA Electric.
The electric car manufacturing facility will deliver 500 jobs in the Latrobe Valley and get an undisclosed sum from the $266 million the regional support package as a five-year grant but the company says it plans to be there much longer.
Mr Andrews later toured a Newport testing facility for the new Metro trains.
Victorians go to the polls on November 24 but early voting starts on November 12.
On Tuesday evening Victorian Governor Linda Dessau issued the writs formally triggering the process.
Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately says the state is set for its largest election turnout.
Voters have seven days to enrol or update details, with rolls closing at 8pm on Melbourne Cup Day.