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Federal Budget 2018: Roads spending part of $24bn infrastructure plan

By Barry Park, 07 May 2018 News

Federal budget infrastructure plan

Roads to benefit as government draws criticism over lack of focus on rising toll

THE Federal Government will spend $24.5 billion on infrastructure over the next decade, including almost $1 billion to build a bypass around Coffs Harbour.

The rail and roads spending is part of a package of measures leaked ahead of tomorrow night’s Federal Budget, the second handed down by the Turnbull Government since the Coalition snatched back power in 2013.

Treasurer Scott Morrison told News Ltd the spending allocated for the Coffs Harbour bypass on the Pacific Highway in northern NSW was an important key in driving down the road toll.

"Most importantly, (it will) mean safer travel both for people who live locally up around Coffs, but also for those making the trip up the coast or down the coast," he said. "The only downside to the Coffs Harbour bypass is you won't be able to drive past the Big Banana anymore."

The news of the spending comes as motorist lobby group, the Australian Automotive Association, called for more action on tackling the road toll, which it said had risen 2.9 percent over the 12 months to March.

It said all Australian states remained above the targets set by the National Road Safety Strategy that plans for a reduction in the road toll by 2020.

“This is yet another report that confirms Australia’s road safety strategy is failing badly and that our national policies and programs need to be reviewed,” AAA chief executive Michael Bradley said. “Clearly, a set-and-forget policy approach can no longer be supported”.

The AAA, which acts as a national voice for motoring interest groups such as the RACQ, NRMA, RACV and the RAA, has called on the government to re-establish the National Office of Road Safety, a federal authority that was abolished in 1999.

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Late last year the Federal Government announced an inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy. The inquiry, which has been granted an extension, was due to hand down its findings in April and was expected to show the strategy had already missed its targets by about 30 percent.

Road trauma is estimated to cost taxpayers around $27 billion a year, data from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development shows. Around 44,000 people are hospitalised each year in the wake of on-road crashes.

The Australian Road Deaths Database shows there were 118 deaths in March, the most up-to-date statistic available show. Over the 12 months leading up to the end of March, the toll stood at 1270. The official toll for the first three months of this year stands at 303, 17 percent higher than for the same period last year.

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