Thursday, 25 September 2008
I rise this morning to talk about the serious matter of road safety. I have listened to my constituents on a range of issues since I was elected over nine months ago, and road safety is certainly a very serious concern for families who travel on southern Tasmanian roads. The message is very simple: they want us to help them make their roads safer for their families and tourists visiting the area. You only have to turn on your TV and watch the nightly news to gain some understanding of the devastating road crashes and how bad they are for the local communities. Tragically, there was a fatal accident in my electorate in the last few weeks. My sympathy goes to the families involved. We all know that road accidents take a huge toll on families, our communities and the economy. They are a major cost to Australians, both financially and emotionally.
Despite notable improvements in road safety over past decades, there is still much to be done. This is why the Rudd government is committed to funding strategies and measures that are helping to improve road safety. One such measure that I would like to talk about today is the Black Spot Program. Members of the House would be aware that the Rudd government has increased funding for black spot projects. Increasing the funding was a commitment made by this side of the House in the lead-up to the 2007 election.
As chair of the federal government’s Tasmanian Black Spot Consultative Panel, recently I was pleased to announce with the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government the black spot funding for Tasmania for this year. I was particularly pleased to announce an investment of $160,000 to fix a dangerous black spot on a local road in Oyster Cove in my electorate in southern Tasmania. Oyster Cove is situated 35 kilometres south of Hobart, and this beautiful part of Tasmania is visited by tourists. The $160,000 will improve line markings as well as reduce roadside hazards that exist along Nicholls Rivulet Road from the Channel Highway to Kemps Road. It is a simple but effective project that is implementing minor road improvements to reduce the risk of crashes.
The $160,000 project is part of the $50 million funding that the Rudd government is delivering to fix black spots on local roads across Australia. The total funding allocation for Tasmania in this financial year is $1.2 million. This is a serious investment to ensure there are safer roads for local motorists and their families. In my capacity as chair of the consultative panel, I am working closely with the community and stakeholder organisations, along with their representatives, to ensure black spot projects continue to be rolled out across Tasmania.
The Black Spot Program has a proven track record of saving lives. An evaluation of the program has shown that it prevented 32 fatalities and more than 1,500 serious accidents in its first three years. I welcome the Rudd Labor government’s commitment to increasing black spot funding. It will certainly mean safer roads for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.