Speech: Road Safety

Speech: Road Safety Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (17:20): I will always take any opportunity to talk about the importance of road safety to my electorate of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast. The Princes Highway is our main connection to each other and to the rest of New South Wales. Almost everyone who lives on the South Coast drives on it daily. The Princes Highway is also the corridor that brings us our life blood—the tourists. For many of our communities there is one road in and one road out of our villages, and they are all connected by the highway. So we also feel it acutely when something goes wrong, which I'm sad to say happens all too often. We feel acutely the swell that happens during holiday times, when the number of cars on the road triples or more, and we fear the terrible accidents that come with it.

Our roads are tested a lot. It can be a difficult task to maintain these roads. In the Shoalhaven alone, the council has 1,771 kilometres of council-serviced roads to maintain—a huge ask. But road safety is also never too far from the minds of local people. Only this last week I was at one of my regular mobile offices where I met a driving instructor. He was talking to me about how important the state of our roads are, and I couldn't agree more. Our driving instructors do an incredible job, giving local drivers the skills they need to stay safe on our roads. Thank you to each and every one of you for your efforts. They do not go unnoticed.

I am always delighted when I hear that more road funding has been allocated to the South Coast to help with the mammoth task of keeping people safe on our roads. I've been proud to help secure funding for critical road safety programs that our community has championed for years, like, for example, the long-awaited Currarong Road upgrade. I was also pleased to hear only this month about some further funding for projects such as moving the Tuross Head bus stop to a safer spot on the highway, which is something the Tuross Head Progress Association and community have fought hard for. Commonwealth funding will also go towards projects like upgrades to the Princes Highway between Stephens Creek and Cockwhy Creek, south of Termeil. These are welcome projects, absolutely, and I'm glad to see them moving forward.

But the reality is that the work to improve our roads is a long way from being finished. I'm regularly contacted by local people who want to see more done to improve local roads. One lady, who was sadly involved in an accident at Bewong, contacted me about the state of the highway where her accident occurred. Heartbreakingly, only the month before, a gentleman had lost his life in almost the same spot. She doesn't want to see more accidents happen here, but the response from the minister simply quoted figures about all that the government is doing to improve road safety—much like this motion.

Several members of one Conjola family wrote to me with their concerns around the turn into Murrays Road, Conjola, from the Princes Highway. Again, there have been several terrible accidents at this intersection, and the families who live on a few properties nearby want action taken to address the risks. They were assured by the New South Wales Government that road safety is a top priority. The government agreed to install an additional warning sign, but there was no commitment beyond that to improve road safety here.

It isn't just our highway either. Grant lives in a remote part of Termeil, accessible mainly by roads maintained by the Forestry Corporation. Old Coach Road was heavily impacted by the Currowan bushfire and has required some significant maintenance works to address safety concerns since then. I wrote to the minister responsible in December but, after many follow-up attempts, I have not had a response. Grant remains seriously concerned about the state of this road. A sign has been put up saying, 'Dry weather road only. Not suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles'—not much comfort for local people who rely on it and have been waiting for action for over a year.

The government likes to pat itself on the back, but figures and assurances don't mean much when people are losing their lives on our roads. We hear it all too often. There are simply too many black spots on the Princes Highway and there are far too many accidents. I ask the government to stop the talk, stop the congratulations, and get on with the job of fixing local roads.