Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Sarah Lloyd was a beautiful, caring, confident, vivacious young Riverina woman. She was loved by many, especially her parents, Daniel and Tracey, and her family. Early on the morning of 12 August 2017, a Saturday, Sarah lost her life in a crash on a country road. She was only 19—just 19—with her whole life ahead of her. So much potential just torn away, instantaneously, unfairly. We mourn for Sarah as we grieve for all families who have had loved ones stolen from them because of road tragedies. Whilst Sarah loved to dress up and looked fabulous when she did, she was equally comfortable in greasy, oily overalls—you see, Sarah was an apprentice motor mechanic and a hard-at-it Aussie rules player. She wasn't your average young lady, but at the same time she was one of us. She was all of us. Her dad is a genuine country bloke, a farmer, a doer. With Sarah, you could take the girl out of Mangoplah, where she was from, but you could never take Mangoplah out of the girl. She was country to the core, whether in high-vis or high heels. There is now a Sarah Lloyd scholarship fund in her honour, with $2,000 awarded each 16 July, her birthday, to a New South Wales female in a non-traditional trade to help them complete their apprenticeship.
Given the circumstances of Sarah's passing, it did not come as any surprise to me to see that Daniel, her dad, took exception to a recent social media post by the member for Moreton. On 1 November, the Brisbane based Labor MP tweeted:
My grandfather was a grader driver during the Great Depression. If a road hasn't had a grader on it since the Thirties why on earth would a responsible federal government make it a priority now while the population in the bush is decreasing?
This was in response to the Liberal-National government's $150 million Remote Roads Upgrade Pilot Program. The funding targets unsealed roads throughout regional Australia, many of which have not been upgraded since the great depression. Mr Lloyd wrote: 'It just proves how anti rural the ALP really are. It practically states, "stuff the safety of people in remote areas".'
I say to the opposition that we do care about country people. They are overrepresented in the road toll. That is why we have invested record funding into regional roads, highways, byways and back-tracks. Better roads save lives, lives of young people in particular, young people such as Sarah, who have so much to live for and so much more to give. As for the ALP MP's claim that country population is declining. That is untrue. A net 43,000 Australians moved to regional areas from capital cities in 2020. Those statistics come from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We know they're right; we know they're accurate. Better roads save lives, and the country population is increasing.