Thursday, 28 May 2009
Stirling Electorate: Roads
I wish to talk today about one of the most serious matters of road safety within the Perth city which exists in my electorate of Stirling. The Reid Highway is a major dual carriageway which passes east-west through the suburbs in the northern part of Stirling. A number of major roads cross the Reid Highway at significant and very busy intersections. Overpasses have been built where some of these roads intersect, and at some intersections there are no overpasses, although it was always intended that these overpasses would be built. They are very busy intersections at two very significant roads.
The Mirrabooka Avenue intersection of Reid Highway has been identified as one of the worst black spots on Western Australian roads. Indeed, by some accounts it is the worst black spot in Western Australia. Thousands of cars traverse these roads every day, leading to congestion and frustration during peak periods and after school. Cars inevitably run the gauntlet out of frustration and the die is of course cast for tragic road accidents. Statistics show that there are over 50 crashes per year at this particular intersection. Many have been serious, including several fatalities, and it has been calculated that the 258 crashes in the five years to December 2007 have cost the community more than $19 million. When I quote that figure, that of course is insignificant compared to the lives that have been shattered by fatalities and very major injuries that have occurred because of this intersection. We all need to remind ourselves of the tragedy of road accidents, which of course is the human face behind the statistics that I have been quoting. The human and financial costs to my community in Stirling, including the drain on health and police resources, are enormous. People have written to me outlining gut-wrenching accounts of personal experiences of car accidents at this site.
The Labor Party has completely forgotten about my community in Stirling and the community of Cowan by not delivering on a promised overpass at this intersection of Reid Highway and Mirrabooka Avenue. The Rudd Labor government has turned its back on these local Perth communities by failing to fund this overpass. Hundreds of local families have already signed an online petition that I started for this overpass to be built. I will continue to fight for this important project because building this overpass will save lives and eliminate a significant amount of road trauma and serious injury.
My community has been promised this overpass at every federal and state election since 2001. In the 2007 election, I secured a promise from the coalition government that, if we were re-elected, we would provide $10 million for funding of this overpass. My Labor opponent at the time, on behalf of the elected Labor government, promised that this project would be considered. The Rudd Labor government must follow up on that promise for road safety and build this overpass at Mirrabooka Avenue and the Reid Highway. By not doing so they turn their backs on thousands of Perth families, especially in the communities of Mirrabooka, Balga, Westminster, Nollamara and Dianella.
I have consistently asked both previous governments and this government to start work on this important project. The Rudd Labor government said it is committed to spending on infrastructure, and the Mirrabooka Avenue overpass should be at the top of the list. This is exactly the type of construction the government should have been spending money on rather than throwing money around like confetti on cash splashes, which has not created a single new job as they promised it would. It would also have brought a significant cash injection to the local Mirrabooka economy through construction work and contract employees’ spending. The government is claiming to be kick-starting the economy during what is a difficult international economic period, yet the bulk of its infrastructure spending is actually not due to commence for another two years.
Set against the backdrop of a whopping $315 billion of debt and $52 billion on cash splashes, the budget papers show that only a paltry $7.1 billion of new infrastructure money will be spent on projects in the next financial year, which of course is the period when we will need it most. Once again, it is all spin and no substance from a Labor government drunk on debt and reckless spending, with very little to show for it. The Western Australian Labor Party said in 2004 and again in 2005 that Mirrabooka Avenue was the worst black spot in Western Australia. They have consistently promised to do something about it, yet they have failed to take any action. I call on the federal government to join with the state Liberal government in Western Australia to look at building this much needed infrastructure in my local community.