Gippsland MP Darren Chester today welcomed an additional $2.2 billion to improve safety on local roads, saying it will save lives in regional areas.
Mr Chester said the Federal Government had a national leadership role to play in reducing road trauma and working with other levels of government to deliver safer roads.
“The extra $2.2 billion for better and safer roads across Australia will certainly be welcomed by local councils and motorists,” Mr Chester said.
“Improving our roads is a proven way of reducing road trauma in Gippsland and I am proud to be part of a government committed to ensuring people can travel safely throughout our region.
“Under the Roads to Recovery program, East Gippsland Shire, Wellington and Latrobe City have already received more than $50 million between them over the past five years to tackle local road priorities.”
The Federal Government today announced an additional $1.1 billion in funding for local councils under the Roads to Recovery program and an extra $550 million for the Black Spot program, which targets known high-risk locations and reduces serious crashes on average by 30 percent.
There will also be a further $571.1 million to improve the safety and efficiency of heavy vehicle operations through the Bridges Renewal Program, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, and Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiatives.
“We will get a share of this new funding which local councils will be able to use together with their local communities to deliver better, safer roads right across Gippsland and save lives,” Mr Chester said.
In Gippsland, funding from these programs has been spent on projects including the new Rosedale heavy vehicle roundabout ($1 million), the replacement of the Lindenow-Glenaladale bridge at Woodglen ($1.2 million), the extension of Giles Street, Bairnsdale ($588,500), and the new bridge on the Buchan-Orbost Road, near Buchan ($1.6 million).
As Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Mr Chester commissioned a review of the national road safety strategy. He said that review has been completed and the government was now acting on its recommendations.
“It’s about safer roads, safer drivers, safer vehicles and safer speeds,” Mr Chester said.
“People in rural communities spend more time in their vehicles and travel greater distances than anyone else and they are often driving on some of the worst roads.
“A disproportionate number of people are killed on rural roads and that’s why I have been a passionate campaigner for a range of road safety projects across Gippsland.”
Mr Chester said next week’s Budget would also include the establishment of an Office of Road Safety.
“Road safety is primarily a state government responsibility, but I have campaigned for several years for the Federal Government to take a leadership role,” Mr Chester said.
“We need to share information across state borders on the most effective way to reduce road trauma and safety should be at the centre of our government’s infrastructure investment plans.
“Apart from the enormous social impact, road trauma is costing our community up to $30 billion per year and there is always more we can do to provide a safety road network, particularly in regional areas.”
The additional funding announced today builds on the Federal Government’s current investment of around $2.6 billion in safety-enhancing projects, bringing the total investment to $3.1 billion per year over the period 2019–20 to 2022–23.