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Advocating change

A budget for change

Our state budget submission urges the government to focus on road safety.

Tasmania has an unprecedented opportunity in 2022 to set new benchmarks in making our island state the safest in the nation.

The state budget to be handed down in May comes at a pivotal time – the emergence (hopefully) from the two years of the pandemic, when keeping Tasmanians safe was paramount, and a long-overdue focus on tackling death and serious injury on our roads.

The pandemic changed our thinking: it was not just the government’s responsibility to keep us safe, it was everyone’s.

The much-anticipated report by the Legislative Council Select Committee on Road Safety will give Tasmania the opportunity to sheet home the message that keeping Tasmanians safe on our roads is also everyone’s responsibility.

On behalf of our 210,000 members we advocate for, we have seized this opportunity – first through its submission to the inquiry and its 38 recommendations, and also in its state budget submission – to urge the government to do things differently.

As we say in our budget submission, Tasmanians want to be safe on our roads. They want better, safer roads, better driver education and better enforcement.

Tasmania has the worst road-safety record of any state but, if all Tasmanians and all levels of government strive to look after each other on our roads and support the evidence-based initiatives to achieve that, we can be nation-leading.

Already there are steps in the right direction by the state government in renewing Tasmania’s mobile speed-camera network with eight new cameras, improving driver training and making our major highways safer.

But in our budget submission, we have urged the state government to do much more.

We should directly fund automated speed enforcement using the fines from the network. This will ensure we keep pace with the technology that is now detecting mobilephone use and seatbelt use in other states, and to bring our fleet of mobile cameras up to 16.

As speed is the biggest killer on our roads, we need to safety-rate Tasmania’s entire road network – state and council roads – to ensure speed limits are consistent with the physical limitations of those roads.

We need to ensure road safety is an essential element in workplace health and safety regimens across the public and private sector.

We need an expanded maintenance budget for both state and local government roads to ensure our roads remain safe. That’s a Civil Construction Federation call we strongly endorse.

This budget should also prepare for the long-term challenges in the way we all get around in the next decade. It will be a time of rapid innovation in transport as the electric-vehicle revolution gathers pace.

It will mean changes in the way we fund our roads, how we provide the infrastructure to charge the new generation of EVs, how we deal with the environmental impacts, how we encourage new forms of transport from the simple e-scooter to the autonomous vehicle, how we deal with congestion, and how we ensure these changes deliver equity and opportunity, not disadvantage.

We see the state budget for 2022–23 as the launching pad for change.