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Safer and Better Roads for O’Connor

As previous speakers have mentioned, we lose far too many people on our roads. In Western Australia, with the enormous distances that we travel, we see a disproportionate number of people lose their lives on country roads. The road toll in Western Australia reflects that around 50 per cent of the people who die on our roads die on country roads, and only 20 per cent of the population lives in regional areas. So as I say, a disproportionate number of people die on our country roads.

That’s why I’m very pleased that the Australian government has committed an extra $50 million per year to our road Black Spot Program. That will take the annual allocation from $60 million to $110 million. For WA, with that money distributed proportionally, that will see around $13½ million allocated to Western Australian roads. Under the funding formula, 50 per cent of that money has to be allocated to rural roads, so we’ll see around $6 million to $7 million allocated to our rural road network.

Last year we saw some good projects funded. The South Coast Highway between Albany and Denmark saw money allocated for a slip road at the turn-off to Young Siding, and I was also very pleased to tell my great mate, Nat Manton, the CEO of the Corrigin Shire, that there were two projects within the Corrigan Shire totalling together $650,000, which the shire will be able to upgrade. So we’ve been doing some good work, and I’m pleased to say that the assistant minister, Scott Buchholz, has appointed me as the chair of the Western Australian committee for allocating this funding. I look forward to early in the year meeting with the agencies involved: Western Australia Main Roads, the RAC and other agencies that are on that body. We’ll be meeting in late January or early February to allocate this year’s funding.

I have some numbers on the success of the program so far. It’s estimated that over 10 years there’ll be 2,400 projects funded, around 280 lives saved and up to 14,400 crashes prevented. It’s a very worthy project, I’m sure you would agree, Acting Deputy Speaker Wallace. It’s vitally important that the community is involved in nominating these black spots. So I would say to all of my constituents, where you see an issue, where you see an intersection or a section of road that you think is dangerous and may well lead to an accident in future, then, please, nominate that black spot and let the committee know.

I want to talk about a couple of other road projects, which are very much related to road safety but not necessarily under the Black Spot Program. Under the urban infrastructure fund—the congestion busting fund, as it’s come to be known—there’s $140 million from the Commonwealth government towards the Albany Ring Road project. In my home town of Albany we have a major intersection, a five-exit ring road, which sees people in very small vehicles, particularly elderly drivers, interacting with three-trailer road trains. About a million tonnes of grain freight comes through that roundabout, and probably another half a million tonnes of woodchips, so there are a lot of very large trucks interacting with—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 18:21 to 18:28

Mr RICK WILSON: As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the Albany Ring Road is critical to take these heavy trucks, as I said up to three trailers, out of that ring road and away from the residential traffic and get them out of the town.

The other significant project—there are actually many significant projects—is Outback Way, which is the road from Laverton to Winton in Queensland. It’s through the outback, passes Uluru and goes through my electorate for nearly 1,000 kilometres, and particularly through the towns of Warburton and Warakurna on the way to the Northern Territory border. We’ve invested, in total now, I think about $160 million in the project. The reason that that’s important is that there are about 1,600 kilometres of gravel and there any many people who are using that road—tourists and others—and tragically this week two motorcyclists were killed in separate incidents. Thank you very much.

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MEET RICK

I was inspired to run for Parliament following my involvement in a decade-long campaign to deregulate the wheat industry, which brought about the end of the Australia Wheat Board’s monopoly.

“I stand proudly for the Liberal philosophy of free markets, vigorous competition, small government and individual responsibility. These are the principles that guide me in my life and in this place. My track record in public life shows clearly that I am prepared to stand up for those principles.”

“To the electors of O'Connor, I reiterate the commitment that I have made to work tirelessly on your behalf, to always be frank and honest about the challenges we face, and to work cooperatively and collaboratively to improve the lives of the people who live in the greatest part of the greatest nation on earth”

– Rick Wilson MP Maiden Speech.