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 road funding and road safety. I repeat their words that every $0.5m spent on 'black spots l will save 1 life. To illustrate just how muddled the federal government remains on this subject, let me quote from the Financial Review of 8 February 1990. The senior Transport Minister, Mr Ralph Willis, who is currently in town said: 'There ' s a lot of hysteria being created about the supposed relationship between road funding and road fatalities, which is exceedingly tenuous ... and for which there is no evidence ' . That shows what confused thinking we are dealing with when we go to Canberra to seek road funds. Of course, when we went to Canberra in December last year to seek road funds, we came back empty-handed. That was because I had the audacity to suggest that much of Australia had different problems to suburban Melbourne and that we should therefore solve our unique problems in our own way. The answer was no. We have to swallow a lO-point package designed by Canberra bureaucrats to so 1 ve problems on a suburban stretch of road between Sydney and Melbourne. What was in the 10-point package? Firstly, we had to accept a 100 km/h universal speed limit on our highways. Whilst I have no problem with that in relation to the Hume Highway or sections of the Pacific Highway which do not have divided carriageways, I have a definite problem with it in relation to the Stuart Highway. Fatigue is one of the biggest problems on our roads and the 1 ast thi ng we need to do is to keep people on the road between Tennant Creek and Ali ce Spri ngs in very hot condition s for a few additional hours. In terms of road transport, including bus and coach travel and other road services, more time on the road means greater costs for a community that is almost entirely dependent on road transport. We do not have the 1 uxury of a ra il system. We do not have the 1 uxury of a bi g coastal shipping network. Not only is this suggestion impractical, but it woul d a 1 so be unenforceable in the Northern Territory or any other remote area of Australia. I have some sympathy for my colleague, Bruce Baird, in New South Wales. He has inherited some big problems and has sought to solve them by reducing heavy vehicle speeds to 90 km/h on the Pacific Highway. He has sought a local solution to a local problem after a series of horrendous crashes in his state. He is now being threatened by the federal government that, if he does not raise his speed limit to 100 km/h for the sake of uniformity, he wi 11 mi ss out on hi s share of the I black spot I money. Of course, the overcrowded, dangerous single carriageway is a vastly different situation to the Stuart Highway. The federal government wants all states now to consider reducing the blood alcohol level from 0.08% to 0.05%. On this account, the federal government is going against the recommend~tions of its own Road Accident Research Unit, based at Adelaide University, which has repeatedly demonstrated that there is nothi ng to be gained from such a reduction. Why penalise responsible drivers who know when to stop drinking when we should be out pursuing the irresponsible hoons who do not know when to stop, dills who climb into their cars with readings above 0.15% and who, our statistics prove, are the people causing accidents on our roads? They are the ones to pursue. Dr Jack Mclean and hi s team from Adelaide University have been carrying out epidemiological research into this matter since 1981 and their findings are consistent. The median blood-alcohol level in fatal crashes is 0.17%, while the median level in crashes involving injury is 0.14%. This is 8783