Speed debate turns ugly
Debate over whether to reduce the speed limit on Victorian country roads has turned ugly, with Labor and The Nationals accusing one another of endangering the lives of local people.
Deputy Nationals leader and Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the Labor Government’s plan to reduce speeds to 70 km/h on some dirt roads was a ‘‘band-aid fix’’ that ignored the problem of poorly maintained roads.
‘‘Our roads have deteriorated significantly as a result of Labor’s funding cuts,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s simple: if you fix country roads, you save country lives. What we need is for Daniel Andrews to fund the maintenance of our roads, not to lower the speed limit.’’
Ms Ryan said Labor had neglected the potholes and cracked roads through Seymour and the surrounding areas in favour of roads closer to the city.
‘‘This is the latest example of a nanny state from a city-based government with no understanding of or care for the day-to-day challenges we face as country people,’’ she said.
‘‘If Daniel Andrews really cared about road safety, he would not have slashed the country roads budget so drastically in the first place.’’
But Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said The Nationals’ claims were hypocritical, given that the Coalition had spent even less on road maintenance.
‘‘The facts are the Vic-Roads maintenance budget was $157 million in the last year of the Liberal-National Government. This year Labor have allocated $343.2 million to maintenance,’’ Ms Symes said.
‘‘Labor knows roads are the lifeblood of country communities, that’s why we’re investing more than ever before to make our country roads safer.
‘‘Since coming to office, the Andrews Labor Government has doubled spending on road maintenance.’’
Ms Symes accused The Nationals of ‘‘deliberately misleading’’ the public and using the deaths of country people for political gain.
‘‘Turning this into a political tit-for-tat is disrespectful to those who have lost loved ones on our roads,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re rolling out more than 1700 km of wire rope barriers, upgrading road shoulders and widening centre lines on the state’s most dangerous country roads.
‘‘I know there is much to be done on country roads and our government is focused on getting on with the job.’’