Top End intelligence was clearly short lived following confirmation a 130km/h speed limit would soon be re-instated on the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory.
With the Country Liberal Party suffering a loss at the weekend’s NT elections, a spokesman for the incoming Labor government has confirmed that work to erect speed signs across the current 300km derestricted zone north of Alice Springs would begin “very soon”.
After a long period without speed limits on the Stuart, Labor installed 130km/h speed limits when it was last in power in 2006. The following Country Liberals most recently led by Adam Giles abolished the limit for a 200km stretch north of Alice in February 2014, and after finding there were no speed-related fatalities in the following 36 months, in July this year it extended the derestricted zone by a further 100km.
Clearly, however, speed limits have now become a game of tit-for-tat between the parties.
“Our policy which we have taken to several elections now is that it [Stuart Highway] should be 130km/h,” the Labor spokesman confirmed.
“There will be no open speed limits under Labor. We’re backing calls from experts in the field like the Police Association and the AMA [Australian Medical Association] who have called for 130km/h to be brought back in those zones.”
The spokesman said the Labor government faced further calls to lower the NT speed limit to 110km/h in line with every other Australian state and territory, but it believed 130km/h was “reasonable.”
Outgoing NT chief minister Adam Giles brought a clear pitch to the election that only the Country Liberals would retain open speed limits, and following road upgrades he wanted open speed limits on an entire 1000km stretch of highway north to Katherine.
“Make no mistake, if Labor is elected on August 27, Labor will remove open speed limits and slow Territory road transport, just as they would slow down the economy,” Giles said prior to the election in a statement.
However, the Country Liberals suffered an 18 per cent swing against what would become a one-term party, leaving Labor’s Michael Gunner to win in a landslide and become the new NT chief minister.