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- Start of Business
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Hull, Kay, MP, Macklin, Jenny, MP)
Medicare Levy Surcharge
(Saffin, Janelle, MP, Roxon, Nicola, MP)
(Marino, Nola, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Adams, Dick, MP, Tanner, Lindsay, MP)
(Turnbull, Malcolm, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Burke, Anna, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
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- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
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- URGENT RELIEF FOR SINGLE AGE PENSIONERS BILL 2008
- AUSTRALIAN ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION AND TRANSPLANTATION AUTHORITY BILL 2008
- SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS (EQUAL TREATMENT IN COMMONWEALTH LAWS—GENERAL LAW REFORM) BILL 2008
- Member for Richmond
- Australian Football League: Grand Final
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- Member for Richmond
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Beijing Olympic Games
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Mr Peter Leek
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- Petrie Electorate: Relay for Life
- AUSLINK (NATIONAL LAND TRANSPORT) AMENDMENT BILL 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Mr ADAMS (5:56 PM) —As many before me have said in this debate on the AusLink (National Land Transport) Amendment Bill 2008, the bill is giving an ongoing commitment to road safety and local road infrastructure. The bill amends the definition of a road so that it includes heavy vehicle facilities such as rest stops, parking bays, decoupling facilities and electronic monitoring systems, which are a modern phenomena in road transport. This will enable the government to provide funding for these facilities under the $70 million Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity package, which I understand has been worked through with players in the trucking industry. It will fund areas, such as trials of technologies that electronically monitor a truck driver’s work hours and vehicle speed, along with rest stops for drivers. It will also include bridge-strengthening projects and upgrades to linkages between existing AusLink freight routes, enabling access to those roads by more productive heavy vehicles. Mr Deputy Speaker Sidebottom, you would know some of those roads in Tasmania and that all those things are relevant to the trucking industry of our state. Driver fatigue is a major concern affecting all categories of road users; therefore this bill should contribute to a reduction in driver fatigue and hence accidents involving heavy vehicles.
The other part of the bill is for the Roads to Recovery program, which provides much-needed funding to local councils around Australia so they can make urgent repairs and provide upgrades to their roads. This will allow for better management of the funding list which sets out all funding recipients in Australia and the amount they receive and which is currently not able to be amended except in very limited circumstances. So the heavy vehicle safety program links closely with the Roads to Recovery program, making it even more important as much of the heavy traffic currently on our roads is slowed by the state of those roads off the national highway and puts pressure on their condition.
I understand the current funding ceases on 30 June 2009, but the current government has decided to continue this funding for the period 2009 to 2014. As we all know, local governments are responsible for more than three-quarters of all Australian roads. I understand that is over 810,000 kilometres. That is a lot of road. This gives them an opportunity to plan for the future for the continued improvement of the road network. The increase in funding will add another $50 million to the program, from $300 million to $350 million under the government’s commitment to increase our investment.
The features of this program are: grants are paid directly to councils, if there is a council in the relevant area; all councils receive funds; the money is intended to supplement not substitute the council’s spending on roads—and we know that there is no council in Australia that would ever do that, and, of course, they are not supposed to—councils nominate the projects to be funded. It also applies to unincorporated areas—that is, where there is no local council.
Tasmania knows how important this program is. Many small areas have been left off the map over the years. The one area that comes to mind is the Woodsdale Road, which passes the Woodsdale Hall and the old schoolhouse there—which now is playing a very important role.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 6.01 pm to 6.20 pm
Mr ADAMS —Previously, I was talking about small areas being left off the map in road funding at times over the years. One such area in the electorate of Lyons is the Woodsdale Road. This passes the Woodsdale Hall and the old schoolhouse, which is now playing a great role in rejuvenating the region as an historical centre and museum. The maintenance of this road was taken over by the council in return for the Mud Walls Road being done up by the state government, and it has breathed new life into the Woodsdale-Levendale area. We had to put together some interesting funding arrangements to achieve that. Senator Watson, who retired at the last election—he was a Liberal senator for Tasmania over a long period of time—and the state member for Lyons, Michael Polley, helped achieve those goals, but it was difficult to work out an arrangement for that funding.
I know there are sure to be other roads that have been left off the map and remain unsealed because of changing circumstances, and we need road funding to achieve those things. This funding fits into those needs very well and assists us to do that. Lorinna Road, in the Kentish municipality, is another prime target for Roads to Recovery funding. For decades that road has been on a high cliff; it has been there for many decades and causes great difficulties in being there. There has been an estimate of something like $40 million to rectify the problem. So I think Roads to Recovery will have a role to play in doing up River Road and having that become the main road into the Lorinna Valley.
Black spot funding has achieved much, but we need to improve the criteria of how we make judgements about what is a black spot. The number of deaths on a certain stretch of road should not be the only reason to fix a very dangerous section of road. There is a need for more community input. I know that local government does have a say and this is good for the council, the community and the local economy, as well as being good for the safety and wellbeing of everybody who travels on those roads. I guess many of us write many letters seeking changes to roads in our local areas without, at times, much success. To get those ideas to filter through to the decision-makers is sometimes a very slow and tedious process. Funding of infrastructure was left off the agenda in the Howard days. Thank God, the Rudd government has got the Infrastructure Australia fund together to fund roads, ports and airports. With road funding, of course, we can build the long-term viability of the country.
I am particularly keen on this bill, which deals with safety and local roads infrastructure in northern Lyons, and I welcome the promise of $3.1 million towards the $6.2 million upgrade of the Illawarra Road link at Longford. My aunt—my mother’s sister—died, much too early, on a particularly dangerous T intersection that has changed very little over the years, and there continues to be too many accidents and deaths at this intersection. It has never been fixed, the problem being that the national highway, which runs from Hobart to Launceston, is funded to go into Launceston. A few kilometres before that is the turn off on the Illawarra link road, so people use the link into Launceston—if that is their destination—and go out through Prospect on to the north-west and down to the ports, Devonport and Burnie. The truckies that are heading to the ports of Devonport or Burnie, and to the ferries there, use the Illawarra Road as a shortcut from the Midlands Highway to the north-west coast. I have never been able to convince anybody that this piece of state highway needs to become part of the national highway. It needs to be upgraded to that effect so that we can change this difficult and dangerous situation.
This road was not designed to take such heavy traffic. The junction at Longford has been the scene of many crashes, including, as I mentioned, that of my aunt. The pledge to upgrade this link road is welcomed and I hope that at some point it may be reclassified as part of the national highway with a proper intersection works to acknowledge the amount of traffic that uses it.
With this strong commitment to fund infrastructure projects, this government has allowed regional areas—in this case, Tasmania—to upgrade a sadly lacking road network, at all levels of government. The local mayors of southern Tasmania took up the fight to upgrade the entrance to Hobart and were able to convince the Labor Party to take this on board. We saw the opportunities provided by $131 million towards the $164 million Brighton bypass and the upgrade of the East Derwent Highway. The improvements are massive and will help the state provide, possibly for the first time, an integrated transport package. The state of Tasmania really needs to put together a proper integrated transport strategy that incorporates all levels of transport. It is one of the last pieces of infrastructure that we need to put together, which was started by the late Premier Jim Bacon.
As well as this, there is $56 million provided specifically towards the $79 million Brighton transport hub, which is at the end of my electorate as you go into Hobart where we think the railway will now come to an end, instead of rattling down the river to Hobart. This will become a major hub which will bypass the township of Brighton, in the southern part of the Lyons electorate, and will also bypass a busy shopping complex and a primary school, which is just around the corner from the national highway. There is also $11 million towards a $14 million upgrade of the Bridgewater Bridge. There is $24 million for rail capacity improvements at Rhyndaston on the main north-south rail line, which will put rail back into the picture a bit more than it currently is, with its present management levels and a company that does not seem to be able to make any headway in improving its lot.
The Rhyndaston rail area was built in the 1880s using horses and drays, picks and shovels. There are many very bad bends. It needs to be upgraded considerably and $24 million is allocated to do that. There is also $30 million to upgrade the Derwent Valley rail line and bridges from Boyer to Karanja to reduce the number of log trucks on the road, as well as $50 million to upgrade the H5 engine of the Derwent Valley Railway. This is a tourism issue, not a road funding issue. There is $5 million towards a $6.2 million investment to start planning the Pontville-Bagdad bypass and build the new Bridgewater Bridge. There is $4.5 million towards a $5.6 million to upgrade the Northern Midlands Highway. There is $31.6 million to improve the main north-south line rail capacity. When you take bends out of the rail line, you improve the travel time and less fuel is used by those rail engines. There is $11.7 million to upgrade the west coast rail spurs to Hellyer Mine and the Melba Flats connection to Zeehan, which I certainly hope to see come together in the future.
Altogether, around the state, these commitments total $446 million and they will be delivered in partnership with the Tasmanian government through to 2014. These programs, along with Roads to Recovery and help from the trucking industry, are vital and will boost the capacity of Tasmania to continue to contribute to the Australian economy. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Melham) adjourned.