Speech: Black Spot Program

Speech: Black Spot Program Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (18:02): 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.