House debates

Monday, 21 October 2019

Private Members' Business

Black Spot Program

5:31 pm

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes the important, practical contribution the Black Spot Program makes in addressing the nation's road toll under the National Road Safety Action Plan 2018-2020;

(2) recognises the need for the Government to continue to invest in the Black Spot Program to improve road safety and reduce the death toll;

(3) commends the Government for putting road safety at the forefront of infrastructure investment, with further commitments to providing an additional $50 million per year from 2019-20 to 2022-2023 to the Black Spot Program; and

(4) acknowledges the Government's Black Spot Program reduces on average at the treated sites, death and serious injury from crashes by 30 per cent according to data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

It is an important issue that I speak about today, this private members' motion that I've put forward. I'm pleased to speak on it because road safety is everyone's responsibility. It doesn't matter whether you're a truck driver or a cyclist or a pedestrian you have a responsibility to use the road network, our road transport system, in a way that ensures that you get home safely and that your conduct gives other road users the best opportunity to get home safely. We all need to strive for that goal of zero fatalities.

Here in Australia, and in most of the developed countries, we've adopted a safe systems approach. This is a methodology that's built on the premise that humans, road users, are fallible and that we will make mistakes and that we need to educate drivers to the best of our ability. But we also need to ensure that we have the best technologies for our vehicles to make them as safe as possible and that the standards for our vehicles are as high as they possibly can be. Another responsibility is, of course, building safe infrastructure and that's a very important element of the safe systems approach.

As the federal government our main responsibility with the road transport network is the national highway—some 14,000 km of national highway. We heavily fund big infrastructure projects in conjunction with the states, but we mustn't forget, and we don't forget, as a government that there is some 900,000 kilometres of roads in this country and they are the responsibility of both the states and the local governments. That's where the Commonwealth helps out with other kinds of funding, such as the Bridges Renewal Program and the Roads to Recovery program. These are major funding initiatives under which the Commonwealth, in conjunction with local governments and the states, puts forward money to ensure that we have the safest road network. The Black Spot Program fits into that category.

The Black Spot program is part of our National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. It's a program that enables individuals, local governments or states to apply for funding where a location has a crash history or a record of serious incidents. Under the funding we can put in some form of treatment to remedy it. That treatment might be signage or a roundabout or lights. There are any number of different options that can be put forward under the Black Spot Program, which is why it is a successful program.

The Commonwealth government takes this program very seriously. In the last budget we committed some $50 million in addition to the existing $60 million that had been contributed to the fund, putting our annual contribution to $110 million a year. Over the decade 2013 to 2023 we'll have spent some $1 billion. Already since we've been in government some 2,300 treatments to roads, improving their standard, have been completed under the Black Spot Program. We know that the majority of serious crashes happen in rural and regional areas, so 50 per cent of all black-spot funding is assured of going to non-metropolitan areas.

The true indicator of the value of the black-spot funding is the results. It has been proven that where black-spot funding has been used there has been a 30 per cent reduction in fatal and serious accidents. That is quite an outstanding reduction in accidents and is something that we need to take note of. It's certainly something we need to continue to fund. It's estimated that some 280 lives will have been saved and 14,000 serious crashes will have been prevented in the decade. I encourage everyone to ensure that they keep a close eye on this program and put in an application where possible.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is there a seconder for the motion?

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (Monash, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion.

5:37 pm

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm pleased to speak in support of the member for Wide Bay and this motion. The Black Spot Program is vitally important in any electorate but is particularly important across the rural communities that the member for Wide Bay and I represent. I acknowledge the latest round of funding, announced by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development in July, when the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development funded three black-spot projects in my north-east Victorian electorate of Indi. In Towong shire the program is contributing $179,000 to improve safety on the Lake Road near Bethanga. In neighbouring Alpine shire, on the spectacular Bogong High Plains Road, it's providing $1.418 million for major safety upgrades. In the southern shire of Murrindindi it's contributing $51,000 for kerb warning and speed signs and markers on Skyline Road near Eildon.

The department's Black Spot Program web page shows that funding is mainly available for work to reduce road risks at known black spots or to improve safety on road lengths when there is a proven history of accidents. Eligibility can be considered when at intersections or mid-block or short road sections there is a history of at least three casualty crashes over a five-year period—on lengths of road there should be an average of 0.2 casualty crashes per kilometre per annum over the length in question over five years; sites have a recurring problem; and, finally, there are road locations that could be considered as accidents waiting to happen, where there should be a road safety audit.

In this context, I'd like to draw the chamber's attention to a notorious section of a major highway in my electorate that should qualify for support from this program. In March 2002, The Age published a story about roads in the Southern Ranges. It said:

Over the past five Easter breaks, the roads through the Yarra Ranges, and neighbouring shires of Murrindindi and Delatite—

now the shire of Mansfield—

… have proven to be among the most treacherous outside Melbourne, according to the Transport Accident Commission.

In Easter breaks since 1997, crashes in these three municipalities alone left one person dead and 51 people seriously injured.

In Easter breaks since 1997, crashes in these three municipalities alone left one person dead and 51 people seriously injured.

Last year, crashes in the Yarra Ranges claimed 17 lives and caused 193 serious injuries.

The winding Black Spur has had 99 casualty crashes since 1997: five fatalities, 35 serious casualty crashes and 59 lesser injury crashes.

That story was 17 years ago, and it's a road that's still to be fixed.

The day before the 2019 election result was declared in Indi, I was visiting the communities of Marysville and Alexandra. In two meetings, local people again told me about the Black Spur section of Maroondah Highway. The highway has a history of distressing, fatal and numerous serious injury crashes, but community concern about the risks at Black Spur is so pronounced that two weeks ago at Marysville Community Centre up to 200 people gathered to discuss what can be done. My colleagues from the Victorian parliament Cindy McLeish MP, member for Eildon, and Tania Maxwell MLC, member for Northern Victoria, were present. So was Murrindindi Shire Council's chief executive Craig Lloyd, representatives from Murrindindi Inc. and VicRoads.

Maroondah Highway is the only direct major road from the Yarra Valley town of Healesville, up towards Narbethong and through to Buxton or across to Marysville. It then goes north to Taggerty. From there it heads on to Alexandra, while another arterial road branches from it at Taggerty to carry traffic to and from Eildon. The highway is critical for business and tourism between Murrindindi communities and Melbourne's east. It's also a spectacular drive, described to me as the ranges' version of the Great Ocean Road.

But Black Spur remains a serious challenge for people and communities on the highway because for much of its winding length of about 10 kilometres it is impossible—and illegal—to overtake. It's a road that needs better signage, more slow vehicle turnouts, better sealing, bicycle lanes and active management of old roadside trees, because the road passes through a wonderful forest of mountain ash. As it is, when trees fall or accidents occur, the road is often closed for hours. This forces travellers to take major detours on unsealed forest roads or back through Yea to drive an alternative route to Melbourne. Maroondah Highway is to be closed for three days this week and one day next week in daylight hours for major tree-felling works.

The people in the communities of Murrindindi want a safe and reliable highway. The Black Spot Program can help to deliver one. I look forward to working with government to make this happen.

5:42 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (Monash, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Road safety is a national priority for the Australian government, and it's committed to reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by road crashes. The Black Spot Program is part of that intention. It's estimated that over 10 years these 2,374 projects will have saved 280 lives and prevented 14,400 crashes. The Black Spot Program provides funding for safety works, including roundabouts, crash barriers and street lights at places where there have been serious crashes or where serious crashes are likely. Of the $1.7 billion federal contribution, a total of $19,720,471 has been put towards projects in my electorate. That's a lot of money. In Monash, so far 55 of the proposed 68 projects have been completed, with the remaining 13 to be completed in the near future.

In the 2019-20 budget the Australian government has committed to an additional $50 million per year to the Black Spot Program from 2019-20. This additional funding is part of a $2.2 billion Local and State Government Road Safety Package. The government will provide $1 billion to the Black Spot Program from 2013-14 to 2022-23. A total of 275 projects across Australia have been approved for the 2019-20 program year, bringing the total number of projects approved since 2013-14 to 2,374. I am concerned about where this money is being spent. I've just been made chair of Victoria's Black Spot Program committee and I've learned a whole lot more about the program than I knew before. Thank you to the Deputy Prime Minister for the appointment, which carries no benefit but probably a lot of hard work!

My concern is this: having been a product of local government, having known local government and having been in local government reform, we design councils so that they would be more viable around Victoria. The city based councils, which I think we should go a lot further with than we did, are basically wealthy entities. They are very well funded, whether they be Casey or whether they be—

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (Monash, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, Dandenong has its issues, but it still has a very strong rate base. But it also has its problems with expenditure on social issues and other reasonable issues. But basically all the councils are quite wealthy, whereas all the councils in regional Victoria or outer Melbourne are struggling with two things. One is enormous growth in the outer suburban areas and the huge need for infrastructure to follow that program. The other is that they don't have the rate base that the city councils have. It's my view that none of this money should be spent on roads that have been in existence for many years and for which there have been enormous upgrades of the infrastructure around the city driven on by the state and local governments. One hundred per cent of this money should be going to the problems that the member for Indi just outlined on the Black Spur. Order.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 17:46 to 18:00

Stop the press, call out the cavalry, do what needs to be done: this money from Roads to Recovery and other funds are spent regional areas, but there should be a predominance. The member who brought this motion to the table talked about only 50 per cent of this money being actually allocated to regional and country areas. All of this money should be going to regional and country areas. The deaths described by the member for Indi, the deaths described by the member who spoke first and the deaths that happen in our own constituencies are issues that affect country people in a much greater way than they ever affect metropolitan people. The metropolitan councils also have the benefit, as they pay for their roads and as they develop these given areas, that the safety aspects are in these new roads. These regional roads are old roads that need the coverage of this Black Spot Program. I'm calling on all of us now to consider that our regional friends and our regional colleagues—the people who live in the regions, outside of the cities—need to be protected in exactly the same way in which we're doing our best for those who are in drought affected areas.

6:02 pm

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have spoken many times in this place about the safety of the Princess Highway. As the main road connecting many communities along the coast, its local and economic importance cannot be overstated. But the highway is not the only road that is in desperate need of safety upgrades in my electorate. Local roads in regional areas can be impacted by a number of things, like our population quadrupling over the holidays. We are a farming and defence community. Tractors, trucks and other heavy equipment are regular users of our roads. We are proud of our industries and we rely on our holiday-makers, but our roads can sometimes bear the brunt of that.

Shoalhaven City Council has over 1,700 kilometres of council serviced roads to maintain, an expensive exercise by any estimation. The Black Spot Program is there to help councils make our roads safer, so we can try and reduce the ever-climbing national road toll. This programs deliver strong road safety benefits, but it needs to have the right investment to achieve this goal, and there are real consequences for delays in that funding. All three councils in my electorate have applied for funding under the latest round of this program, and I want to talk a little about why these projects are so important.

Shoalhaven City Council has 13 projects on its wish list, totalling almost $7.9 million. I understand that council's top priority this year is to fix the Currarong Road. The campaign to fix this road has been running for years, and residents have been left disappointed in the past. The Currarong Community Association has been leading this campaign, and, sadly, we have recently seen yet more evidence of why this road needs to be fixed. Our community has been left devastated by the news that a 17-year-old man from Erowal Bay has been left in an induced coma following a crash on this road on 12 October. There is a tragic list of injuries to this poor young man, and a GoFundMe campaign that has been set up to help his family has had strong local support. This road is dangerous. It needs fixing, and I am pleased that this is a top priority for council. If successful, funding will be used to widen the road and install a shoulder and for other safety treatments on a stretch of road spanning between 7½ and 11½ kilometres. At a total project cost of $4.6 million, this project is expensive. That can make it harder to meet the benefit-cost ratio the program requires, but it doesn't lessen the urgency.

Another priority for council is Kangaroo Valley Road on Berri Mountain. Council wants $317,000 to install some fence line guideposts and rub rails to try and make the 12½ kilometres of this notorious road along the edge of the mountain safe. Council is also hoping to fund roundabouts at Currambene Street in Huskisson and Osborne Street in Nowra. Some of council's projects are more modest than others: $60,000 for design and investigation works at the corner of Osborne and North streets in Nowra, an intersection across from the local school—a small price to pay for our children's safety.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has three projects on its wish list. Council is asking for $4.3 million for a protective right lane turn and traffic signals on Beach Road, Batemans Bay. Council also wants $3.8 million to realign the bends on George Bass Drive at Lilli Pilli, and $3 million to enhance the shoulders, improve the line markings and increase sight lines at Tomakin Road at Mogo. Recently, Kiama Municipal Council successfully updated Crooked River Road in Gerroa, with more than $97,000 from the program to install Raptor crash cushions and other safety measures—a great example of the great things this program can do. This year, council is again asking for funding, with a focus on improving pedestrian safety in the area. These are all worthy projects, and it is obvious that the need in my electorate is great.

We know this program can save lives. We know that the road toll continues to soar, and across Australia it is higher today than it was four years ago. That's why I feel disheartened that the Morrison government continues to overpromise and underdeliver on the Black Spot Program: $123 million over the last five years has been underspent. Why? There is a huge need for this financial assistance in my community. No-one should have to face what the Currarong community is facing. No family should have to crowdfund so they can be with a loved one who has been critically injured on one of our roads. Let's hope that this year the government delivers what it promised. Our community cannot afford to wait.

6:07 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to begin by congratulating the member for Wide Bay. He's someone who comes to this place with, let's say, some real rubber left on the road when it comes to this motion. He's a man who was involved with the police force, who was very often required to deliver tragic news to loved ones following road accidents. He's someone who is really passionate about road safety, and not just this motion but his behaviour in the party room and in this place generally is proof positive of that. He and I are both chairs of our respective state's black spot committees, a position I am very much honoured to hold, and it's one which calls upon us once a year to sit with various stakeholders in a very constructive, collaborative meeting where we determine allocation of this funding.

If I can go to the point the member for Gilmore made in error at the end of her contribution: I'm sure she didn't intend to suggest our government wasn't allocating funding to the Black Spot Program. In fact, funding to this program is a billion dollars over 10 years, and this year's annual funding goes from $60 million to $110 million, an increase of $50 million. She did point out that there's been an underspend. There's an underspend because this funding is provided to state governments, who go about undertaking the works, and in some cases, sadly, this work is not being done on the ground. There's no issue in terms of the allocation of these funds. The projects are funded, and I see it in the work I do in the black spot committee in South Australia. I have been incredibly disappointed with respect to one project, at Holder Top Road in Waikerie, which took not one but two years to break ground after we had approved the improvement of a dangerous intersection. That's where this issue is. Quite frankly, to point this out is really just to go and find statistical politicking and point-scoring. It's not becoming, quite frankly, in this debate. Nobody in this place wants to put Australians in harm's way in any endeavour. In fact, if it relates to road safety, I think we can all say across any aisle that it is a multiparty intention in this place to make road safety a very high priority. Of course, as a government, we're doing that not just in relation to the Black Spot Program; there's $100 billion worth of infrastructure projects being rolled out.

In preparation for this contribution, I asked for details of total federal government expenditure on the road network in my electorate since I had the privilege of being elected the member for Barker. I can tell the constituents of Barker that since I was elected in 2013 over $990 million has been expended on the road networks across my electorate. Almost $1 billion has come in to improve the road networks of Barker or is slated in the forward estimates to do so. I can point to $200 billion for the Princes Highway and $70 million for the Renmark-to-Gawler section of the Sturt Highway. That is considerable funding in terms of the Black Spot Program. But, rather than spending this time highlighting each and every one of those projects, I can say, as someone who drives 100,000 kilometres in my electorate, that we need to do more. Governments need to do more. Local governments need to do more, state governments need to do more, and the federal government needs to continue to make a significant contribution.

I conducted over 40 community meetings during the course of the last year or so, and in all those community meetings I asked constituents: 'If there were one thing you could do to your road network to make it safer, what would you do?' On balance, we came to the resolution in each of those meetings that they wanted to see wider roads. Wider roads are safer roads, and I'm talking in particular now of a country electorate like mine. So over time I'd like to see us undertake a serious program of road widening across my electorate and, indeed, across all of our rural electorates. We know that it costs about $100,000 per kilometre to widen a road. That's a small fraction of the cost of resurfacing a road, and it has a significant impact in terms of reducing likely road fatalities. I commend this motion to this place.

6:12 pm

Photo of Rebekha SharkieRebekha Sharkie (Mayo, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm a strong supporter of the federal Black Spot Program for regional roads. At more than 9,000 square kilometres, Mayo has a large road network and, sadly, a disproportionate number of South Australia's fatalities and serious accidents. A program that successfully identifies where often limited amounts of federal funding can save many lives and prevent serious injuries is, without a doubt, an excellent use of funds. However, for my electorate of Mayo, analysis has found that most of the federal government's chosen funding commitments have not necessarily matched where we have the greatest number of crashes and casualties. Now I recognise that a good black spot program will also seek to identify where crashes are likely to occur and prevent them before they happen, but the mismatch between the data and the funding commitments is sometimes challenging. As the federal member, I would greatly appreciate more transparency around that.

Although it is a little dated, the casualty crash data for Mayo for the five years between 2011 and 2015 identified three particularly bad intersections. The corner of Pfeiffer Road and the Woodside-Nairne Road, the corner of Nine Mile Road and Willyaroo Road between Strathalbyn and Willyaroo, and the corner of Main South Road and Norman Avenue in Normanville. The worst four stretches of road are the section of Mt Barker Road between Aldgate and Bridgewater, Birdwood Road between Gumeracha and Birdwood, Onkaparinga Road west of Mt Torrens, and Willunga Hill Road. Sadly, there are further dishonourable mentions. I've spoken about the perils of the Victor Harbor Road extensively in this place, as well as those of Main South Road between Myponga and Yankalilla. Sadly, Long Valley Road has seen many tragic, and quite recent, accidents in my community. The state government continues to promise it's going to act, with a review. We're yet to see the findings from that review, and I hope that their inaction will not cost any more lives.

We need to make sure that our country roads are funded and fixed. It's not too often I agree with the member for Barker, but I certainly think a widening program would be particularly valuable, particularly because we have so many cyclists on our roads now. We have cyclists and trucks together, and the two combined are often a tragedy.

I would like to mention the intersection between Old Princes Highway and the Woodside-Nairne Road, which, while less likely to cause death and serious injuries, is still a dangerous spot, because vehicles bank up over the railway line and there are morning commuters. It's an issue that's happening for years in Nairne and one that many of us avoid, but sometimes, if you live right near there, you cannot avoid that. In the last South Australian election, the state government promised to upgrade the intersection and, while survey work has been done, there are no plans on the table for the promised community consultation. I really urge the state government to work on that. I know the local member, the member for Kavel, has been particularly vocal on this matter, and that's what's important: state and local members talking about what's needed in our community.

I will mention the on and off ramps that need to be extended on the South Eastern Freeway. Sadly, they too can be deadly, with slip lanes being particularly short with the uphill merges. I continue in this place to advocate very strongly for federal government funding for the Verdun interchange to be a properly upgraded bidirectional interchange as well as ensuring we can have a timely start to the Deputy Prime Minister's commitment to Mayo for an additional lane on the freeway between Crafers and Stirling.

Lastly, I want to reassure my electorate that I will continue to push for ongoing supplementary road funding for South Australia. This remains a deeply critical source of funding for our state's local roads. Centre Alliance's advocacy has already returned $80 million in supplementary road funding to South Australia. This is for our regional roads, and approximately $9.2 million of that goes directly to Mayo. Anyone who lives rurally sadly knows people that we have lost in our community. In Mayo we have black markers and we have red markers, and all of those people are loved and deeply missed by their family. They're often young people. In our community we have huge gum trees that, while they look beautiful on our big roads, are, sadly, very unforgiving. I encourage, in particular, young people and P-platers to drive carefully on our rural roads. Your mum and dad will miss you too much. I commend this program. I'm so grateful the federal government puts funding into our rural roads.

6:17 pm

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As previous speakers have mentioned, we lose far too many people on our roads. In Western Australia, with the enormous distances that we travel, we see a disproportionate number of people lose their lives on country roads. The road toll in Western Australia reflects that around 50 per cent of the people who die on our roads die on country roads, and only 20 per cent of the population lives in regional areas. So as I say, a disproportionate number of people die on our country roads.

That's why I'm very pleased that the Australian government has committed an extra $50 million per year to our road Black Spot Program. That will take the annual allocation from $60 million to $110 million. For WA, with that money distributed proportionally, that will see around $13½ million allocated to Western Australian roads. Under the funding formula, 50 per cent of that money has to be allocated to rural roads, so we'll see around $6 million to $7 million allocated to our rural road network.

Last year we saw some good projects funded. The South Coast Highway between Albany and Denmark saw money allocated for a slip road at the turn-off to Young Siding, and I was also very pleased to tell my great mate, Nat Manton, the CEO of the Corrigin Shire, that there were two projects within the Corrigan Shire totalling together $650,000, which the shire will be able to upgrade. So we've been doing some good work, and I'm pleased to say that the assistant minister, Scott Buchholz, has appointed me as the chair of the Western Australian committee for allocating this funding. I look forward to early in the year meeting with the agencies involved: Western Australia Main Roads, the RAC and other agencies that are on that body. We'll be meeting in late January or early February to allocate this year's funding.

I have some numbers on the success of the program so far. It's estimated that over 10 years there'll be 2,400 projects funded, around 280 lives saved and up to 14,400 crashes prevented. It's a very worthy project, I'm sure you would agree, Acting Deputy Speaker Wallace. It's vitally important that the community is involved in nominating these black spots. So I would say to all of my constituents, where you see an issue, where you see an intersection or a section of road that you think is dangerous and may well lead to an accident in future, then, please, nominate that black spot and let the committee know.

I want to talk about a couple of other road projects, which are very much related to road safety but not necessarily under the Black Spot Program. Under the urban infrastructure fund—the congestion busting fund, as it's come to be known—there's $140 million from the Commonwealth government towards the Albany Ring Road project. In my home town of Albany we have a major intersection, a five-exit ring road, which sees people in very small vehicles, particularly elderly drivers, interacting with three-trailer road trains. About a million tonnes of grain freight comes through that roundabout, and probably another half a million tonnes of woodchips, so there are a lot of very large trucks interacting with—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 18:21 to 18:28

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the Albany Ring Road is critical to take these heavy trucks, as I said up to three trailers, out of that ring road and away from the residential traffic and get them out of the town.

The other significant project—there are actually many significant projects—is Outback Way, which is the road from Laverton to Winton in Queensland. It's through the outback, passes Uluru and goes through my electorate for nearly 1,000 kilometres, and particularly through the towns of Warburton and Warakurna on the way to the Northern Territory border. We've invested, in total now, I think about $160 million in the project. The reason that that's important is that there are about 1,600 kilometres of gravel and there any many people who are using that road—tourists and others—and tragically this week two motorcyclists were killed in separate incidents. Thank you very much.

6:30 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you very much to the member for Wide Bay for this particular motion. He, like me, is passionate about black spots in our local electorate and making sure that our residents get home sooner and safer. This was key election of commitment to the people of Ryan at the last election, that I would do everything in my power to advocate for additional infrastructure funding for them to ensure that they and their families were safe and were freer of congestion than they are today.

I appreciate the member for Wide Bay's motion as an opportunity to talk a little bit about the importance of black spot funding and some of the local projects that I have going on in my area. But before I get into the detail of that, let's not be confused about Labor's lack of support for fixing infrastructure and black spots in their local areas. We've heard a lot of nice words from Labor members opposite as part of this debate, but we also hear lots of words in the chamber like, for example, when they were deriding minister Tudge just recently when he was talking about the importance of fixing local roundabouts, which are black spots—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I take the interjections from Labor members, who were again just now deriding the fact he was fixing a roundabout. These are the local black spots that are so important to our community members. The roundabout in question is in fact a local black spot. There have been over 16 accidents in the last five years, 11 of which required hospitalisations, seven of which where people were very seriously injured. For Labor members opposite to simply deride it as a local roundabout just goes to show how out of touch they are with the Australian people, who are looking to the government to make sure that these kinds of black spots and safety issues are fixed within their local areas.

It's no surprise the Labor members opposite would deride something like fixing local congestion, because they don't believe in investing in roads. They don't want to do it. They've shown time and time again what they're more interested is the social engineering of forcing behavioural change and getting people out of their cars, forcing people to leave their cars, whether it's via congestion tax or simply failing to invest in the local infrastructure that enables people to use their roads in a non-congested way. They're trying to force people onto other forms of transport, or to get out of their car, whatever it is. The Labor Party is about removing choices for people, rather than investing in the local infrastructure that allows families to make the decisions that are best for them, to make the decisions that suit their families the best and allow them to enjoy a good and strong quality of life. Which is why it is so important for the Morrison government that we're investing in infrastructure, particularly in the black spots program. Not because it's an end in itself—it's no surprise that every politician loves cutting a ribbon, I won't deny that. But at the end of the day we invest in this infrastructure not because we can, not because it is there, but because we're helping everyday families. Because every bit of infrastructure that we upgrade allows them to spend more time at home with their families, allows them to do more sport or things on the weekend, allows them to get home safer so that no family has to go through the experience of getting a call late at night from the police that something has happened to a significant loved one.

The black spots program is particularly important in this regard, because it targets those bits of infrastructure which have a demonstrated record of being unsafe. As part of the local and state government Road Safety Package, announced in the 2019-20 budget, the Australian government has committed an a additional $50 million per year for the black spot program in 2019-20. I know from experience as a local councillor just how important this funding is for local councils, to be able to partner with the federal government, to achieve real outcomes on the ground.

The government has, in fact, provided a billion dollars to the Black Spot Program between 2013-14 financial year and will do into the 2023 financial year, with an ongoing commitment of $110 million for each following year. As I said, it's an important part of the National Road Safety Strategy. The strategy's vision is to challenge the perception that serious injury or death is just an inevitable cost of road travel—it is not. We can and should do better. We should ensure we are doing everything to keep our roads as safe as they can possibly be and that they're maintained to a high standard. It's important the community gets involved in nominating local intersections or bits of road that can be dangerous, where serious crashes have occurred, that can be part of this program. I'll be encouraging local Ryan residents to do exactly that.

Debate adjourned.