Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
Black Spot Program
Our roads are the lifeline of our communities, connecting us to our families, our workplaces and our aspirations. I believe that road safety is paramount, and every journey taken, regardless of the mode of transport, should be made with the goal of reaching our destination safely. The government's Black Spot Program is a key program, instrumental in enhancing road safety across our vast nation. First introduced by the Hawke government in 1996, it aimed to reduce the number and severity of crashes on Australian roads over three years. It targeted locations with a history of road accidents, hence the name 'black spot'. For over two decades the Black Spot Program has been steadfast in its commitment to reducing the risk of road crashes. It has successfully funded projects across our country aimed at improving road safety in areas where it is needed most.
When the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport visited my electorate of Tangney in May this year, she came to announce key commitments under the Black Spot Program which would substantially improve 24 dangerous crash sites on Western Australia roads in 2023-24. For my constituents, this means the installation of a roundabout and upgraded street lighting at the intersection of Corbel and Modillion Avenue North in Shelley in the electorate of Tangney. I was so thankful that this was finally happening under our government, after a tragic accident at this site back in January 2021claimed the life of a 17-year-old young man on his motorcycle. There was also something that frustrated me: Why did it take so long for something to happen? Why didn't the previous government do something to address this sooner?
When I was a police officer, I attended so many traffic crashes. It is against this backdrop that I advocate and support amendment of the black spot road safety program guidelines to make it easier for local government to be able to access this vital funding. Half of our road crashes occur on local government roads. These crashes are responsible for 52 per cent of all casualties and 40 per cent of all road deaths. These numbers are not just statistics; they represent lives disrupted, families torn apart and communities scarred. It is our moral duty to address this issue.
Numerous lives have been spared and countless injuries prevented due to the intervention made possible through the Black Spot Program. However, as effective as the program has been, there are challenges in ensuring the local government sectors have equitable access to this funding.
There are cases—like the roundabout in my electorate of Tangney—that have taken nearly 2½ years to be announced and actioned. Local governments shoulder the responsibility for approximately 77 per cent of the road network, yet it only collects around 3.5 per cent of the total tax revenue raised by governments in Australia. This financial imbalance highlights the heavy reliance of local governments on funding from other levels of government.
These amendments in the guidelines represent a substantial shift towards making the program more accessible and responsive to the needs of local communities. It is true that not all councils are created equal in terms of resources. Rural and regional councils, with their lower rate bases, may find it challenging to meet the stringent criteria for the Black Spot Road Safety Program. These councils are the lifeblood of our regional communities, and we must ensure they have the support needed to make their roads safer.
Amending the Black Spot Road Safety Program guidelines is not merely a matter of convenience; it's a matter of life and death, and our collective safety should be a non-negotiable priority. Let us work together to make this a real thing.