Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 However, it was a bit like a mirage - too good to be true. Whilst the promi se of thi s money was attractive to any government serious about doing somethi ng about the 'black spots' in its road system, it was somethi ng of a fatal attraction. Attached to this money was a big stick called the Prime Minister's 10-point road safety package. We were told that, unless the Territory accepted every condition contained in the 10 points of this proposal, we would not receive a cent of the $110m. As it turned out, our share was to be a lousy $5m over 3 years and, with that amount, we were expected to fix up the major problems on Northern Territory roads. We were expected to adopt the 10-point plan with no exceptions and no questions asked. It was all or nothing. As well, the states and territories were expected to contribute $40m over and above their current commitments. When we are talking about road funding, road safety and people's lives, we can do without that type of blackmailing mentality. It is very hard to obtain a sensible response when dealing with this federal government. In my time as transport minister, I have had to deal with 7 federal counterparts in 3 years. That incl udes a couple of junior and senior teams and 1 recycled minister. That is 7 times that I have had to try to get the message across that the Territory has problems which are unique to this part of the world. These include the problem of historical neglect of Territory roads, the problem of remote areas, diverse and difficult conditions, and a road network which is 2.5 times the national average per head of population. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a mentality which does not understand or does not want to understand. Let me give an example of how hard it is to deal with these people. On 16 August 1988, the then federal Mi ni ster for Transport, Peter Morri s, made this statement in relation to demands by motorist associations for increased road fundi ng as a method of reduci ng the carnage on our roads: 'The associations' claims that there would be a horrendous increase in road deaths because roads would deteriorate following road funding reductions were simplistic and dishonest'. Mr Speaker, there you have it. The then federal Minister for Transport denied a link between road funding and road safety. Yet, 3 months earlier, on 12 April 1988, this very same minister issued a press release which included these words: '"Better roads had been shown to have substantially reduced Australia's road death toll", the Minister for Transport and Communications Support, Peter Morris, said today'. How is that for muddled thinking? In April, better roads saved lives but, by August, anyone who said that better roads saved lives was dishonest and simplistic. Mr Speaker, if you think the federal government has got its act together with the Prime Minister's 10-point plan, that is just wishful thinking again. In launching his 10-point plan, the Prime Minister stated: 'For every $0. 5m spent on roads, 1 1 ife woul d be saved. Of course, wi th every life saved, 10 serious injuries are prevented'. In terms of the economic cost of that 1 death and those 10 serious injuries, that $0.5m spent on roads represents a good investment. The Bureau of Transport Economics indicates that it costs thi s country $6000m every year for the 3000 people who di e on our roads and the 30 000 who are i nj ured. Of course, road fatalities are not simply a matter of statistics and dollars and cents. Road accidents relate to people. I do not think that there would be a member in this Chamber today who has not been associated in some way with some unfortunate event on the roads. For that reason, I thi nk it is criminal that the federal government has money to spend on our roads but is cynically withholding that money in order to score some cheap political points. This is occurring despite the fact that the Prime Minister and the Land Transport Minister, Mr Brown, have advocated the connection between 8782