Speed limit review slammed by Nationals, but government says no blanket reductions planned

Potential changes: A parliamentary inquiry’s recommendation to review speed limits on country roads has been slammed by the Victorian Nationals. Photo by Vanessa Wiltshire

The Victorian National Party has accused the state government of planning to reduce speed limits to 80km/h on roads across country Victoria — slamming the idea.

The government, however, has refuted the claim, but has not ruled out some changes to limits on certain country roads.

State Member for Euroa and deputy leader of the Victorian Nationals Steph Ryan referred to a parliamentary inquiry into fatalities on Victoria’s roads which recommended reviewing speed limits.

Ms Ryan described the policy this week as “lazy”, and said the state government should focus on fixing country Victoria’s crumbling road network.

“Labor cut the road maintenance budget by 25 per cent last year and now, because of crumbling roads and potholes, they plan to drop speed limits on country roads to 80km/hr” Ms Ryan said.

“This is a lazy and arrogant decision by the government which demands cars be roadworthy but does nothing to ensure roads are car worthy.

“Reducing speed limits on regional roads doesn’t fill potholes, doesn’t fill cracks and certainly doesn’t stop roads completely falling apart; it just means the government has to do less.

“At the same time as cutting funding for road maintenance in country areas, Labor is pouring $52 billion into four transport projects in metropolitan Melbourne.”

A government spokesperson told The Ensign, on January 20, that there were no plans for blanket 80km/h speed limits on arterial country roads.

“Local roads change at the request of the local council, and any speed limit changes will continue to be assessed on a case by case basis,” the spokesperson said.

“Once again, this is cheap political point-scoring by the Victorian Liberal and National parties on the important issue of reducing the number of lives lost on our roads.

"A bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into the road toll recommended the speed limit on all rural and regional roads undergo a review — including support from a Liberal member and the Transport Matters Party.

“The proof is in the process — even the minority report identified there may be circumstances where speed changes are required."

However Ms Ryan pointed to the fact that committee had a Labor majority.

“The recommendation was vigorously opposed by Opposition MPs so any attempt to sell this as a bipartisan initiative is dishonest,” she said.

Ms Ryan said if elected to government the Nationals would reinstate the Country Roads and Bridges Program; a program which provided funding to rural councils to upgrade local roads and was dropped by the state government when elected in 2014.

“It’s not rocket science: fix country roads, and you will save country lives,” Ms Ryan said.