More detail needed on Federal funding

RACT is calling on the Federal Government to release more detail on its funding initiatives announced in last night's Budget.

"We saw a range of funding allocated to infrastructure and road safety, but the Budget did not provide Tasmanian motorists with a clear vision for improving road congestion or provide clear advice on when funding for pre-announced initiatives will be available," Executive General Manager, Membership and Community, Stacey Pennicott said. 

"RACT certainly welcomes an increased focus on better road safety measures across Australia and in particular for Tasmanian motorists, and we welcome that there is funding for traffic congestion measures put in place, but what we are looking for is more detail on how money is going to be spent and when it's going to be spent."

Ms Pennicott said concerns have been raised on the timeline of funding for vital road safety initiatives highlighted in the Inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy.

"It looks to be that the funding is being put past this election period, looking to the fourth and fifth years and beyond, so that doesn't provide certainty to the road safety initiatives that have been put forward by the Federal Government," she said.

Ms Pennicott also questioned the funding for congestion-busting measures in Hobart, including new funding for the road between Hobart and Sorell.

"We are concerned around the detail of where funding is going to go, but also how it's going to address the wider issue of Greater Hobart congestion," she said.

"What we're seeing at the moment are announcements around small areas being funded, but not a holistic view around how we fix the overall problem for the wider area.

"For example, any measures to address congestion between Hobart and Sorell will get traffic into Hobart quicker, and impact the congestion issues in the CBD. While we are supportive of getting the traffic congestion issues fixed at Sorell, it needs to be part of a greater plan for Hobart.

"RACT has been developing its 30-year vision for traffic in the Greater Hobart area, which is a holistic response that sets out a time frame, and an indicative costing, that doesn't just address motorists but all modes of transport as well as the Tasmanian lifestyle."

Ms Pennicott said in the north and north-west of the state funding had been announced for road safety and the freight corridor, but no detail had been provided on what would be done to address issues in this area, nor a timeframe on the improvements.

"We see the Bass Highway between Wynyard and Marrawah as a key piece of infrastructure that carries freight, private and tourist vehicles and there is a great need to upgrade this to a 3-star AusRAP safety rating for the benefit of all motorists in the area," she said.

"Launceston and the surrounding areas are experiencing significant growth and we are seeing growing traffic issues in areas such as Mowbray, particularly with the continuing development in the area, that need to be addressed.

'What we don't want to see in the future is Launceston experiencing the same issues as Hobart is facing now, so this are needs to be future-proofed for further growth.'

On a national level, the main funding confirmed in the Budget includes:

  • $5.9 million to establish an Office of Road Safety in response to the National Road Safety Strategy Inquiry report, which found urgent action was needed to reach the NRSS goal of a 30% reduction in road deaths by 2020;
  • $12 million for a Road Safety Innovation Fund to support road safety research and development of new road safety technologies and products;
  • $8 million to extend the Keys2Drive program, which provides a free lesson for learner drivers and their parent/supervisor, for another two years;
  • $4 million to support road safety awareness, education and collaborative initiatives with nationally focused road organisations that promote road safety;  
  • $2.6 million to the Australian Road Research Board to assist local governments to assess their road asset management and maintenance requirements with a focus on regional areas; and
  • An additional $2.2 billion to improve local road safety and upgrade local road networks, which includes the Roads to Recovery program, the Black Spot program, the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and the Bridges Renewal Program.

Analysis of the figures on a state level show a total of $1.2 billion in funding for infrastructure in Tasmania over the next five years, including:

  • $15.6 million for Black Spot projects;
  • $13.1 million for the Bridges Renewal Program;
  • $7.2 million for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program;
  • $141.2 million in rail investment;
  • $473.5 million in road investment;
  • $216.9 million in Roads of Strategic Importance;
  • $75.6 million in the Roads to Recover program;
  • $59.7 million for the Urban Congestion Fund; and
  • $196.9 million for financial assistance to local governments.