Epov meeting request referred to the office of the Prime Minister

THE Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has referred the request of Greater Taree City councillor, Peter Epov for a meeting with Prime Minister, Tony Abbott to the Canberra parliamentary office of the Prime Minister.

That is the advice of Cr Epov regarding progress on his bid to speak with Mr Abbott about the Manning Valley: Bridge and Road Funding petition.

"Mr Abbott has promised to be a Prime Minister for all Australians, he also wants to be known as the infrastructure Prime Minister, so I have requested 21 minutes of his time representing the 21 days that it took the 20,817 people of this community to unite on this critically important issue and to express their plea for urgent and immediate attention to this serious issue of national rural infrastructure."

Mr Epov said he stated in the letter that the "campaign is not about politics, it's not about who is right or wrong, it's about securing better and safer roads and bridges for our children and our families, this is our priority".

"All too often, people in the bush have had to tough it out. They endure droughts, floods, fires and storms and they don't complain. For generations people in the bush have made many sacrifices to feed the people of the cities and drive the national economy, but in return for these sacrifices they have been very badly taken for granted and ignored through the lack of funding for local infrastructure. Surely, the people in the bush deserve to be treated on the basis of equality?

"A $3.6 billion backlog in infrastructure maintenance with roads and bridges classified as: 'in poor or very poor condition' does not surface overnight; this is a legacy of financial neglect spanning many decades. It has very serious consequences.

"Our petition campaign received particularly overwhelming support from women and mothers of small children who rushed all the petition collection points, and it was deeply touching and humbling to see the genuine expressions of gratitude, after they signed the petition. Women are seriously concerned at the state of decaying rural infrastructure."

Cr Epov added that there has been nothing in the history of the local government area that has so rapidly united and galvanised the community as the concern for the state of the roads and bridges.