Thursday, 8 October 2020
Each day around the world, around 3,700 people die from road or road-related accidents. Last year in Australia, 1,180 people lost their lives on our roads. Nearly 70 per cent of those fatalities occurred on our regional and remote roads. As a former police officer, I've seen firsthand the tragic consequences of road trauma as well as its effects on the families and first responders left behind. As the chair of the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety, I've recently attended a number of public hearings we've conducted with a view to preparing a report for the next National Road Safety Strategy. The overwhelming message was that there is a need for further funding to address the state of the nation's roads, particularly country roads, so it was very pleasing to see the additional $2 billion in the budget for a road safety program, along with a further billion dollars to local councils to upgrade local roads, footpaths and lighting. The funding under the road safety program will deliver an estimated 3,000 kilometres of road safety treatments, improving regional roads to prevent road run-offs and head-ons, and transforming urban roads to provide greater protection for vulnerable road users. This investment by this government will save Australian lives.
The Coffs Harbour Bypass is going to be a reality, and this federal budget has reminded us of that. I was heartened to hear on Tuesday night that an additional $490.6 million has been committed to the Coffs Harbour Bypass in the federal budget. It is to provide important improvements to the road that the community cried out for and that I campaigned hard on in 2019. The project will provide tunnels through the mountains surrounding Coffs Harbour, rather than land cuttings and bridges, and will provide low-noise pavements. Tuesday night's budget announcements take the Morrison-McCormack government's funding commitment to the road to a whopping $1.46 billion for the cost of the road upgrade. I thank the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, for making this project one of our government's infrastructure priorities, and for making it part of our strong economic recovery plan for Australia. It will deliver up to 12,000 direct and indirect jobs. It is also expected to deliver around 3,700 local jobs and pump many millions into the tills of local contractors, suppliers and businesses. This funding is essential for the safety of road users, it is essential for the economy of Coffs Harbour, and I commend this government for fulfilling its promise to the people of Coffs Harbour.