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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 203


Senator LEWIS(11.20) —I also wish to speak to this matter. I support Senator Bjelke-Petersen in congratulating the Fraser Government on the implementation of this program. It is certainly an excellent program. From time to time as one travels around the larger States of this Commonwealth one sees the desperate need, as Senator Bjelke-Petersen said, for the expenditure of funds on our major road network. I hope that our State governments will decide to allocate some portion of their funds towards some of those roads rather than just relying totally upon Federal governments for them, because quite frankly the state of the main roads in some of our larger States is very poor. I can well understand that. They are such large States with such an extensive road network.

In addition to congratulating the Fraser Government, I congratulate former Liberal governments in Victoria for the state of the roads in Victoria. The major arterial networks in Victoria are really first-class. The problem is that motorists in outback Victorian areas are tending to stay off those magnificent roads. Why is this? In Victoria the Cain Labor Government has introduced a driving offence which relates to motorists driving at 30 kilometres an hour above the speed limit. Any motorists convicted of travelling at a speed in excess of 30 kilometres above the speed limit compulsorily loses his licence for three months. That is fair and reasonable in the city of Melbourne. Anyone who drives down Collins Street at, say, 91 kilometres an hour ought to lose his licence for three months. But the trouble with this Cain Labor Government is that it is not able to see beyond the boundaries of metropolitan Melbourne and its suburbs.

When one drives between my city of Warrnambool and the major rural city of Portland one drives on a large, open, wide and flat road in flat countryside. The concern about losing one's licence if one is caught driving at a fast speed is so great that motorists are getting off the highways and taking to the back roads. I see Senator Button smiling, but of course he now gets driven around the place and does not have to worry about driving round rural Victoria. It is to me a matter of great concern to discover, when I move off to a minor road for my own purpose of travelling faster than the speed limit and in the hope of avoiding the police, that not only am I not the only person on the minor roads but also I am travelling along with 22-wheel semi-trailers loaded with 17 tonnes also travelling at excessive speeds and, of course, doing major damage to the road networks which have to be maintained by local government.

The point is that the State Government, by foolishing applying the same rules to outback, rural Victoria and to drivers on those roads as apply to metropolitan Melbourne, is forcing heavy vehicles off the main road. One might say that the market forces are moving drivers of those heavy vehicles off the major roads on to the minor roads, thereby creating an enormous burden for local government in trying to maintain the rural roads system of Victoria. I suggest that with a little foresight the State Government could have done something proper about this. For example, it could recognise that it is much more reasonable to travel a bit faster on a decent freeway or a decent country highway and not limit people in Victoria to 100 kilometres an hour on a four- lane freeway. Anyone driving along at 100 kilometres an hour will find that he is passed by all the trucks in the area.

Question resolved in the affirmative.