The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, says Victorian parliamentary committee hearings have exposed a savage $50 million cut to road safety in the Andrews Labor Government’s 2022-23 Victorian Budget.
With more cuts on the way.
Mr Walsh says the funds were slashed from the budget despite the state’s road toll increasing to 99 lives lost, up from 87 deaths at the same time last year.
He says the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) also heard road safety spending in 2021-22 plunged to $86.6 million following an expected outlay of $136.9 million – a 37 per cent cut on projections.
“Concerningly, targets for road safety initiatives have been cut from 73 to 34, pending Federal Government investment,” Mr Walsh says.
“With the road toll rising, now is not the time to cut road safety spending – this short-sighted penny pinching does nothing but ring alarm bells and risk more lives,” he says.
“Every road death is a tragedy and so many of them are preventable. We need strong investment to drive down the road toll and keep Victorians safe.
“We have no clarity on what crucial projects will not be funded as a result of these broad cuts to funding and the delivery of initiatives.
“Road safety is everyone’s business and I urge the government to reverse these cuts and re-invest in road safety.”
Mr Walsh also pushed the Government to take a multi-pronged approach to road safety, including proper investment in road maintenance and management.
He said Labor has carved big cuts from road asset management for the past two years, to the tune of more than $200 million.
“The Andrews Labor Government refuses to acknowledge the pivotal role safe and properly maintained roads play in keeping road users safe,” Mr Walsh added.
“Human error is a major factor in the road toll, with too many Victorian roads plagued by crumbling shoulders and massive potholes that are a daily danger to motorists,” he said.
“Safe country roads save country lives. These budget cuts don’t make sense as we watch our road network fall into a state of disrepair.
“The Auditor-General first warned the Labor Government about the declining state of our road network in 2017, these cuts must be reversed and road safety re-prioritised to the benefit of all Victorians.”