Bill Speech: Transport Legislation Amendment (Better Roads Victoria and Other Amendments) Bill 2018
Ms SPENCE (Yuroke) (16:09:53): I am very pleased to add my contribution to the Transport Legislation Amendment (Better Roads Victoria and Other Amendments) Bill 2018. This bill was introduced in August 2018 during the previous Parliament. It passed the Legislative Assembly, but it was not debated in the Legislative Council before the Parliament was dissolved. In summary, the bill has three objectives: to implement the government’s commitment as part of Project 10 000 to develop legislation for the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account, to reduce the burden on the courts and free up court resources by transferring responsibility for managing alcohol interlocks from the courts to VicRoads and thirdly, to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and operation of transport legislation by making further road, road safety and public transport amendments. In regard to the first objective, the bill delivers on yet another commitment in Project 10 000, which we have heard a fair bit about this afternoon. Project 10 000, as we know, is the Andrews Labor government’s transport plan for Victoria that includes transforming public transport, removing the worst traffic bottlenecks, boosting economic growth and creating 10 000 jobs. Project 10 000 recognises the important role for the state government to plan and deliver transport projects for the economic prosperity and safety of all Victorian communities. This bill provides for the creation of the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account to deliver on these Project 10 000 commitments. It is worth noting that the government exceeded its commitment to allocate $2 billion over eight years to outer suburban and regional roads in only four years. In doing that over $3 billion has so far been allocated to upgrade and repair roads across the state. Over $1.9 billion of that was for outer suburban and interface communities, and over $1.1 billion was for rural and regional communities. This much-needed investment in regional areas is not only about improving conditions and safety for rural and regional motorists but also about fostering thriving regional economies that are creating jobs and providing for the future. As a member representing an outer-suburban interface community in the Hume City municipality—like you, Acting Speaker McGuire—I know that investment in these areas was also greatly needed. As we know, the population in Melbourne’s outer suburban areas is continuing to grow, and with that comes additional demand on the road network. Without proper investment in roads—investment for now but also for the long term—people in these communities will spend longer in traffic and will need to travel further to get to and from work. I am thrilled that this bill provides for the ongoing investment in improving safety and congestion on these roads and that it requires all future governments spend a proportion of the Better Roads Victoria funding on outer suburban and regional roads. To do this the bill provides fixed minimum proportions of funding, with 33 per cent of the Better Roads funding to go to the repair and upgrade of roads in outer suburban and interface communities, and 33 per cent to go to the repair and upgrade of roads and level crossings in rural and regional communities. This will provide a consistent and guaranteed level of road funding to growth areas and to the rural and regional communities for the years to come. To achieve this guaranteed funding the bill provides for the compulsory payment of an amount equivalent to traffic camera and on-the-spot speeding fines revenue into the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account. Whilst other road-related moneys can still go into that account regardless of the source, the hypothecating of this revenue to that trust account will ensure that there is a minimum level of funding going into the account. Whilst others have spoken a lot today about what this means for regional and rural Victorians, what I would like to mention is what this means for outer suburban interface communities such as mine. Put simply, this really is a game changer. To have a dedicated stream of funding to address the challenges in these areas will allow for a number of priority issues to get the attention that they need as well as planning in regard to the many emerging issues that we have in these communities. When I say ‘these communities’, there are quite a lot of them. They include Cardinia Shire Council, Casey City Council, Hume City Council, Melton City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, Nillumbik Shire Council, Whittlesea City Council, Wyndham City Council and Yarra Ranges Shire Council, all of which will have a range of priorities now and emerging issues into the future. Some of these communities, like the one that I represent—and you too, Acting Speaker McGuire—are also in growth corridors. This can make ongoing investment in those areas even more important. Let me give an example of the effect of growth in those outer suburban interface communities. In my electorate the population of Craigieburn has tripled over the past decade. It has gone from around 20 000 people in 2006 to around 60 000 residents now. And that is just in the suburb of Craigieburn, not the entire electorate. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on our roads and in particular on our arterial roads. Craigieburn Road, which is the main east–west arterial that I know you would be familiar with, Acting Speaker McGuire, has endured a massive increase in daily vehicle movements, creeping up to an average of 29 000 vehicle movements per day. This road is a single lane in parts, and whilst it has served a community of 20 000 people, I am sure we can all appreciate that it no longer serves a community of around 60 000 residents. So we are doing something about that. I am very pleased that we are doing something about that. We are doing the duplication works that are required to bring this road up to the standard that is required for this massive population growth. These works really cannot happen soon enough. The local community is very keen to see this transformation take place. When something has not happened for so long there is obviously concern about when it will happen, and people really want to see it materialise. That is something that everyone is very keen to see progress quickly. Similarly the population of Greenvale has doubled over the past decade from around 10 000 to 20 000 residents. Similarly this area has one main arterial road—Mickleham Road—and has also seen a rapid growth in daily vehicle movements, including around a 19 per cent increase in the past year alone. That is a massive increase in just one year that has taken vehicle movements on that road from just over 24 000 vehicle movements per day to now around 28 000 vehicle movements per day. Like Craigieburn Road I fully support the duplication of Mickleham Road, and I am really pleased that we are doing the preplanning work that is required for the development of a business case to fund the required duplication works. On that road, as with most arterial roads in our suburban interface areas, you have a major school on a major road which obviously compounds the problems that we experience there, and so I am very much looking forward to that also progressing. The importance of this consistent and guaranteed level of roads funding cannot be understated for regional roads and for our outer suburban and interface areas, particularly for the community that I represent and you represent, Acting Speaker, that are also in growth areas and home to not only growth suburbs, but home to the fastest growing suburbs not just in the state but in the entire country. The bill of course has other measures in regard to the administration of alcohol interlocks. I think it is incredibly positive, freeing up the significant court resources that the Magistrates Court has to currently allocate to this task with over 5000 applications per year. I am sure that will be very warmly welcomed by those who need those resources allocated to other matters. There are a number of other amendments that go to the commitments in the Towards Zero action plan, such as the fitting of alcohol interlock devices to all drink-drivers’ vehicles when they are relicensed. There are a number of other public transport related amendments, but essentially what this bill does is deliver on our commitment to fund roads in outer suburban and interface areas and in rural and regional areas, and it transfers the responsibility for managing interlock devices and makes a number of other road safety and public transport related amendments. I commend the bill to the house.