Speed Limits


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (15:20): I rise today to speak on behalf of the people of Stuart about an issue that has concerned us for a long time. I have spoken about it here before and I will do so again today. It is the government's continued desire to downgrade country road speed limits. Let me be very clear: in the opposition, we take road safety extremely seriously and we genuinely mourn, as does the government, every fatality or serious injury on our roads, but the simple truth is that it is not necessarily the speed limits that contribute to each one.

The reality is that, if you slow down speed limits from 110 to 100 km/h, typically you will penalise the wrong people. The people who are currently driving at 110 km/h who will then drive at 100 km/h are not the ones at risk: it is the people who are consuming alcohol, consuming drugs, being foolish and driving at speeds well in excess of the speed limit. If you drop the speed limit from 110 to 100 and the person who is driving at 150 drops down to 140, that speed limit change is actually not the thing that is going to make the difference.

Councils hold this view, other organisations hold this view and, very importantly, police officers share this view. I have been told by highway patrol police officers—the very same people whose full-time job is to look after safety on the roads—that they do not actually think this is going to do the job. The government is currently considering well in excess of 150 new stretches of road to have these speed limits downgraded, and let me tell you that 73 of those stretches of road in the last five years have had no fatalities or serious injuries on them.

Let me just go through a few of these roads that are in or close to the electorate of Stuart: the road between Hawker and Quorn; the road between Quorn and Wilmington; the road between Burra and Morgan; the road between Wilmington and Orroroo; the road between Black Rock and Jamestown; Carrieton and Orroroo; Pimba and Roxby Downs; the Barrier Highway between Cockburn and Olary; Olary and Mannahill; Mannahill and Yunta; Marree and Hawker; Yunta and Oodla Wirra; and the Eyre Highway.

These are the sorts of roads that the government is seriously considering dropping the speed limits on. Those roads I have mentioned just as examples are ones I am very familiar with. They are typically good roads in good condition with big, broad visibility in country or outback areas. They are not the sorts of roads where the speed limit is responsible for deaths and serious injuries on our roads. There are roads that are not in good condition; there are certainly plenty of them.

Mr Deputy Speaker, if you have the opportunity, I recommend that you look at DPTI's own recommendations for the quality of roads that have 110 km/h speed limits on them. In that area the government is sorely lacking, and part of this plan is to make up for its own lack of road maintenance on some of those roads. But the roads that I have specifically mentioned—and there are many others which, if I had more time, I would mention—are good roads with great visibility, and they are extended distance roads, too. These are not places where dropping the speed limit is going to make a significant difference. Other things will make a significant difference, and I give one example of the Worlds End Highway, between Point Pass and Eudunda. A couple of years ago, there was a tragic accident: two deaths on that road.

It was very sad for the whole community, but they were unfortunately the result of one person bonnet surfing who fell off, had an accident, and then when other people came around to help at the accident, another person was run over. This is terrible stuff, but it was not about the speed limit but, because of that, if this government has its way, every single other person who travels on that road is going to be penalised because of that terribly unfortunate accident.

It is an overreaction, and it is completely inappropriate. It really is akin to trying to deal with the problem of obesity by forcing everybody in the state to go onto a diet. It is akin to trying to deal with tragic drownings by forcing everybody in the state to swim in a swimming pool or some sort of controlled environment. It is an inappropriate response. These deaths and injuries are tragic—they are very sad—but, as I said, 73 of the roads that are considered for having their speed limits downgraded have had no deaths and no serious injuries in the last five years.


No Very

Captcha Image