Second reading debate: Road Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2016

It gives me pleasure to rise and speak on the Road Legislation Further Amendment Bill 2016. The bill makes some administrative changes to different parts of the principal act. It focuses on some things like bringing Victoria into line with other states on the use of interlocks and some blood sampling issues. I am quite familiar with those issues because I have worked in accident emergency and have seen what happens when large motor car accidents (MCAs) come in and people rely on you to actually save their lives. At those times it is not smart to be taking two lots of blood when you do not need to and can take one. So these are good things.

The issue that makes me most concerned is the fact that we are talking about roads, and we are talking about the fact that safety is an issue. Recently VicRoads data has shown that roads in my part of the world are the worst in the state. We do not actually need to be told this; we experience it every day. It is great to see that the Minister for Roads and Road Safety is listening today, because I think he has been out and visited and recognised that they are incredibly bad roads. Unfortunately though the minister’s $44 million announcement, as he well knows, was actually repackaged maintenance and was such an insult that the shires themselves have said that it is less than they were getting every year. It was not an announcement at all; it was actually an insult.

These roads are so bad that people are having to cross over double lines to avoid hitting potholes. This is really serious. The people of my electorate’s safety is at risk if they have to cross over double lines and face head-on traffic to negotiate the roads. In fact I got an email just yesterday from someone in Gippsland who had recently visited the south west. They said:

Trying to dodge the potholes was a massive job, but alas some you cannot miss and a blown tyre was the result. We were not the only ones affected that day as we saw other vehicles with blown tyres and were told by locals that this is happening all day, every day …

We were eager to return to see more of this area, but will stay away and spend our money elsewhere in Victoria.

We are from West Gippsland, our roads are not fantastic, but nothing like the Western District.

You really need to actually seriously take a good look, minister. I know you were there, so I do not know how you could not have seen it. One road on the way to Bolwarra is actually the Princes Highway — our no. 1 highway for this country — and one of the potholes there cannot actually be patched. I get phone calls every single day from people saying, ‘It’s raining and they’re out patching the road today, and tomorrow that pothole is bigger’.

I had a phone call just yesterday from Sam Wilson of Caramut. He said that they had patched the roads two days ago and there were already holes again. This is actually the government’s fault, because the money that VicRoads is getting is just not able to do the job. A bandaid approach to this is throwing good money after bad, so they should take responsibility and give the money required. The government gave $1.8 billion to the west. Does the Premier think that the west of Melbourne is the west of his jurisdiction? No, this is the state of Victoria, and as a government that is what it is charged to do — look after the Victorian people.

We are talking about safety. I understand that it is not nice to sit in traffic and to get home late, but what about the people in my electorate who may not get home at all? We have had 11 deaths in the last 18 months in the Glenelg area. That is the highest death rate in country Victoria. Just in October we had three truck rollovers. This is most serious. I challenge members to think about what it is like to work in accident emergency and to have your friends come in and to see what I have seen, and it is only worse now. It is not pleasant. These people want their children to go to work safely and come home safely. Our school buses were cancelled a couple of weeks ago because it was not safe to send them to school on the school bus because of the roads.

This is not a Third World country; this is a western country. The government should not forget the west of the state. They should not make announcements that insult us by saying, ‘We’re funding out west’, because they did not fund out west; they forgot the west. I ask the Minister for Roads and Road Safety to come out again. He should prioritise the ‘safety’ in his title and come out to my electorate.

If I did think the roads could be avoided, perhaps I could look at the train service and try and get from western Victoria down to the city of Melbourne to do business or to come to this place. My son is at Melbourne University, and 100 per cent of the times he has come home in the last year the train has been over 40 minutes late and I am sitting there at the station, which is fine, with other mothers and other family members at 11.30 at night. That is okay for me because I only have to drive another half an hour, but what about the people who have to drive another hour and a half, and they do? Many a night the buffet car has not even been open so people are travelling for 5 hours without anything being available to eat or drink. The toilets often do not function and, guess what, there is not anywhere you can change a baby’s nappy — the floor of the toilet is so sodden you could not do it there. It is just not acceptable.

Our trains are the worst in the state for being on time. We are the worst in the state and have been that way for two years.

An honourable member interjected.

Ms Previous HitBRITNELLNext Document — No, this is in the last two years. I am talking about being the worst in the state for the last two years. I think what was left was your idea that the state finishes at the tram tracks of Melbourne, and you proved that on Tuesday this week by saying, ‘Aren’t we wonderful? We are going to fund out west’. Honestly, the Victorian country people have done it before and they will do it again. Ignore us at your peril. The Premier of this state and this Labor government have no idea about the country, and they are proving it day after day.

Motion agreed to.

Read second time.