PHWAA – Princes Highway West Action Alliance
For almost two decades, a group of four western Victorian regional councils had struggled to attract major funding from either the Victorian or Federal Government for significant – and urgently needed – upgrades to the Princes Highway, between Colac and the South Australian border.
While the key east-west corridor of almost 300km had been subject to a massive increase in traffic over recent years – more than 15,000 vehicles a day – thanks to strong growth in key industries such as tourism, logging and agricultural production, it had been 19 years since the last VicRoads strategy for the highway was produced, despite nine fatalities and hundreds of serious and significant injuries to road users.
Warrnambool City Council, Moyne Shire, Corangamite Shire and Colac Otway Shire had all been actively agitating and lobbying for funding but making very little significant headway. The four councils all sit in the safe Liberal/National seat of Wannon – held by Liberal Education Minister, Dan Tehan with a comfortable margin of 9.2% – which covers the majority of western Victoria.
McCo Group developed a communication action plan and digital strategy for the project with a proposed timeline for media releases, video content and social media content.
The campaign started with the announcement of the formation of the Alliance and the reasons why the four Councils had decided to band together in their lobbying efforts. With the campaign theme … ‘Fix it now! Victoria’s great South Coast deserves a safer Princes Highway!’
We then announced the engagement of the transport planning surveyors Traffix Group by the Alliance to undertake an updated assessment of the highway and identify urgent priorities for roadworks. Based on the Traffix Group’s findings, we then went to the media with the announcement of the Alliance’s identified, key danger areas of the Highway and estimates of the funding required to fix them.
We developed a comprehensive portfolio of video interviews with well recognised local and regional business owners, industry sector spokespeople, local community members and the four regional Lord Mayors. We also spent many hours driving the length of the highway and filming the worst areas of the highway and the heavy traffic.
We established a campaign website and a change.org petition, which targeted a broad number of campaigning State and Federal politicians such as the local Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan and the Victorian Minister for Roads, Jaala Pulford.
We leveraged any potential opportunity to publicly target key decision makers and reiterate our calls for funding and consistently challenged them for a fair response to the local community they’d ignored for too long.
‘The campaign developed and managed by McCo was incredibly professional and quick to establish. It engaged with our community and the broader South West Region and in very short time developed a massive ground swell of support.
Scott Cavanagh – Princes Highway West Action Alliance Spokesman / Director, City Infrastructure, Warrnambool City Council
The campaign is considered to have been a major success!
The Alliance has secured $60 million in federal government funding for upgrades to the Princes Highway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.
It has also been allocated $20 million from Victoria’s Traffic Accident Commission for improvements between Warrnambool and Panmure.
It has also been notified of a ‘share’ of a further $80 million with three other major roads, with the exact amount yet to be finalised.