Saving Lives - Not Playing Politics Wed 5 September 2012 David O'Byrne Minister for Infrastructure The Minister for Infrastructure, David O'Byrne, today said the State Government's newly-released strategy for non-urban roads is about saving Tasmanian lives. Mr O'Byrne said reform of some non-urban speed limits has nothing to do with a supposed "lack of road maintenance", as the Tasmanian Liberals have claimed. Two simple facts show Rene Hidding's claims about "poor maintenance" to be ridiculous: • Tasmania has seen record infrastructure funding in recent years - with more than $800 million of road and rail funding coming under the Nation Building One program.The State Government is investing more than $195-million into the road and rail network in 2012/13 alone. • Tasmania has recorded a record low road toll for the last two years running. "Despite our historically low road toll, the evidence shows our non-urban roads are still a concern," Mr O'Byrne said. "More than 40 per cent of Tasmania's serious road casualties happen on non-urban roads with a 100 km/h speed limit. "That's why the Government is working with Councils and local communities to assess (against independent evidence-based criteria) whether our non-urban roads have the most appropriate speed limit. "The Non-Urban Road Network Strategy I announced yesterday could help save more than 100 people from being killed or seriously injured over the next six years. "There's no 'hit list' of roads, and there is no 'one size fits all' approach. We have listened to the community and we know that's simply not appropriate. "Indeed, the vast majority of our roads, including the busiest ones, won't be affected. "If the Liberal Party wants to play politics with peoples' lives - using flawed and dishonest arguments - that's deeply unfortunate," he said. Tasmania has a unique topography which makes road design challenging. Many of our roads are winding, hilly, narrow and can't be widened or straightened - making a 100km/h speed limit unsafe. "Independent road safety and design experts have examined Tasmania's roads, and developed a set of criteria that recognise our unique environment," Mr O'Byrne said. "The Australian Road Research Board (AARB) developed these criteria using safe system principles, and they've been peer reviewed by the Centre for Automotive Safety Research. "We have a duty to respond to their findings and protect lives - instead of trying to portray those roads as being safe for a 100 km/h limit. "This is a unique response to a unique Tasmanian situation," he said. Several of the roads listed by the opposition have been listed for major upgrades under the Government's Community Roads ($90-million) or West Coast Roads ($21-million) Programs. "I challenge the Liberals to explain what they would spend on roads and road maintenance, and what they'd cut to find the extra money," Mr O'Byrne said. "To date the only commitment the Liberals have made to our roads is $400-million from a Federally-elected Liberal government for the Midland Highway, over 10 years… a project that if built today, would cost upwards of $2 billion," he said.