June 19, 2014
Mr CHESTER (Gippsland—Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence) (09:51): I take the opportunity to raise concerns on behalf of the Genoa and district community relating to the corner on the Princes Highway which has been the scene of several serious accidents, including three fatalities in recent years. Last Sunday, there was another tragic accident which cost one life. I would like to express my condolences to the family and loved ones of the man who was killed when his car failed to negotiate the bend opposite the Genoa Hall. Two people were seriously injured in that accident and we wish them well for their recovery.
I would like to refer to a letter from June 2013, which was sent from the Genoa town committee to the state minister for transport. I quote:
For over 15 years, the Genoa town committee and Genoa Hall committee have made continued representations to VicRoads regarding the condition of the Princes Highway adjacent to Genoa community hall at Scrubby Creek. This small community is sick and tired of being fobbed off by continual bureaucratic nonsense by VicRoads as accidents continue to happen.
I have also made representations to VicRoads and relevant ministers over the past three to four years, trying to have the speed limit reduced from its current 100 kilometres per hour to 80 kilometres per hour through the Genoa township. VicRoads’ most recent response indicated that VicRoads will be completing road safety improvements, installing curb alignment markers, installing additional closely-spaced guideposts and installing additional large curb warning signs with high-visibility 80-kilometre-advisory speeds on a red background.
With all due respect to the VicRoads staff concerned, that has not fixed the problem and it will not ever satisfy the concerns of the local residents. I acknowledge that I am not an engineer, but I firmly believe there are three things that need to happen as soon as possible on the section of road.
Firstly, VicRoads should install 80-kilometre-an-hour speed restrictions zones for the Genoa township section of the Princes Highway. It is a one to two kilometre section of road. There is no impost on the travelling public to have to have an 80-kilometre zone through the town to try to reduce speed around this dangerous corner. Secondly, some immediate temporary works needs to be undertaken to address the safety of the corner itself. At the absolute minimum, there should be wire rope barriers established to prevent cars running off the road at high speed and colliding with trees. Thirdly, the corner needs to be completely overhauled. It needs to have more extensive work done, to be realigned in in such a manner that it can improve the safety for all road users on this stretch of the Princes Highway.
I will be working with the Genoa and district community to seek funding opportunities under the federal Black Spots Program, which specifically targets sections of road with an extensive crash history. This is an important program. I am pleased the federal government is continuing to roll it out. It will have opportunities now through a change in the eligibility criteria to make it easier for regional communities to compete for additional funding to improve safety on roads right throughout regional Australia.
I am not seeking to apportion blame in any way whatsoever for the most recent accidents, but those who have travelled on that road understand that it is a dangerous corner. However, for anyone who does not know the road, it can catch them unawares and have terrible ramifications, as it has in the past. I concur with the local community: urgent action is required. Yesterday, I spoke to a local resident, Peter Allard. He has campaigned for this issue. He said to me, ‘Hopefully this time we will be able to get something done.’