Thursday, 2 October 2014
Pearce Electorate: Infrastructure
Yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development announced that applications for the coalition government's National Stronger Regions Fund are now to commence. This landmark $1 billion fund has the potential to drive economic growth in the communities that need it by providing much-needed federal funding towards community infrastructure development at local level. This is particularly important for my electorate of Pearce, which includes 10 local government shires, many of which fall in outer metro or semirural and regional areas. Each of these can benefit from the National Stronger Regions Fund in order to accomplish specific projects which are designed to provide community support to their local residents. Already I am in discussions with a number of these local government authorities within my electorate who have approached me with proposals for projects which, if successful, could contribute to revitalisation in many of these regional communities.
The National Stronger Regions Fund is just one example of the funding that this government is directing towards local governments in order to promote growth and development at a local level. Recently the councils and shires within Pearce were the recipients of over $5 million in federal funding as part of the Roads to Recovery program for the 2014-15 financial year. In total, these councils and shires will receive during the next five years over $30 million as part of this excellent program so that local governments can take control of road upgrades across their own communities. Certainly, this present coalition government is of the view that these local government authorities are in the best position to make important decisions as to where money can be best spent on road improvements, and this $2.1 billion program gives them the ability to do exactly that. By doubling the contributions provided to local government authorities over the 2015-16 period to a total of $700 million, this government is allowing councils to immediately get on with the job of repairing and upgrading roads in their areas.
One notable example in the electorate of Pearce is the Shire of Mundaring, which will receive over the next five years approximately $2.8 million in funding as part of this program, which will allow it to focus that money towards important upgrades and developments.
One project that I wish to make specific mention of is the Great Eastern Highway Greenmount to Mundaring upgrade. This upgrade is a project that is of considerable importance to the residents of this area. It exists on the fringe of the Perth metropolitan area and operates as the main arterial road connecting the city of Perth to the goldfields and continuing on towards the eastern states of Australia. It is therefore part of the national road network. Because of its importance, it carries a volume of tens of thousands of vehicles a day, in both commercial traffic and personal traffic, through many areas that are classified as residential. Indeed, going to the goldfields, it is probably a road that has contributed more to the national wealth than just about any other road in the nation.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of this high volume of traffic, there have been a significant number of accidents in the Greenmount to Mundaring stretch of the Great Eastern Highway, with a total of 224 accidents occurring between 2007 and 2012. Tragically, three of these were fatal accidents. Prompted no doubt by these unfortunate occurrences, a road safety audit was conducted in 2004. It identified a number of required works on the road including upgrading intersections, creating slip lanes, improving driveways into local residences, improving street lighting and creating paths for safe pedestrian travel. In total, 31 individual hazards were identified, of which 24 were rated as high and three were rated as extreme.
The funding required for this project has been estimated at approximately $24 million, with the Western Australian state government confirming in its budget that it would contribute a half-share, a commitment of $12 million, across the 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years. Moving forward, it is a very important task for me as a local member to remain a strong advocate for this project. I have to date had many useful discussions with federal ministers in the hope of seeing it through to fruition, given the particular importance that any upgrade will have for the people within my electorate and indeed for growing the wealth of the nation.