Wire barriers an election issue

February 14, 2018

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has announced an elected Liberals and Nationals government will suspend the blanket rollout of wire rope barrier and redirect funds toward road safety measures on country roads.

Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the Liberals and Nationals would also establish a working group to look into how wire rope barrier could be used more strategically to save lives.

The Victorian Liberal and Nationals Coalition will suspend the Government’s roll out of wire rope barriers if elected in November, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced at the Grasstree rest area north of Seymour yesterday morning.

Joining the Member for Euroa, Steph Ryan, deputy leader of the Liberal Party David Hodgett and Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, Mr Guy said the Coalition would suspend the program and establish a working group to determine where the wire rope barriers can be placed to best improve safety.

‘‘Road safety is something that is paramount to all of us, particularly those in country and regional Victoria who spend a lot more time on our roads,’’ Mr Guy said.

‘‘There is no doubt the roll out of wire rope barriers in areas where they are needed and increase public safety is supported, and there’s no doubt there’s parts of Victoria where wire rope barriers are needed,’’ he said.

‘‘However, the Government has embarked upon a program of rolling out wire rope barriers along more than 2000km of highways that appears to be without any consideration of whether they are in fact necessary, or whether they are going to hinder emergency services and in some cases make the roads less safe.

‘‘The Coalition is committed to making our roads safer. We’re also committed to making sure that the right mechanisms are rolled out in the right locations.

‘‘It’s pretty clear the roll out of wire rope barriers for the sake of it, without any consideration as to whether they’re actually needed, or whether they’ll actually improve road safety, has botched the roll out of these barriers across the state.’’

Ms Ryan said the Coalition was responding to thousands of concerns raised with them by people from across Victoria.

‘‘We’ve had story after story where the Government’s botched roll out of wire rope barriers has in fact made safety worse, not improved it,’’ she said.

‘‘The TAC looks at liability, they don’t look at community safety more broadly, and I’ve had CFA captains coming to me with their concerns about the fact these wire rope barriers are increasing fuel loads and that they’re not allowing trucks to access fires.

‘‘I’ve also had one CFA member who even brought to me a case where they responded to a grassfire on the Hume, and that fire actually became a 10ha fire, when it should have been quickly extinguished.

‘‘We’ve had motorists telling us of instances where they have been put in danger because they don’t have enough space to pull off the road, and I’ve been calling for months for Daniel Andrews and Luke Donnellan to halt this roll out until the safety concerns can be addressed.

‘‘I’m so pleased Matthew Guy has recognised the concerns of motorists and I would urge Daniel Andrews to do the same, rather than to blindly continue this botched roll out across the state.’’

However, Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said flexible safety barriers are proven to save lives, stating they reduce the risk of head on and run-off-road crashes by 85 per cent.

‘‘The barriers that were installed last year have already been hit more than 300 times — that’s 300 potentially life-threatening collisions avoided,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘Liberal and National Party members should meet the families of these people and explain why these barriers and their lives don’t matter.

‘‘Road safety has traditionally been bipartisan with politicians accepting the advice from the experts ... I find it pretty shameful for the Nationals to use important road safety issues for uninformed political point scoring.’’

Ms Symes also said the Liberal National Coalition made the decision to install barriers when they were in Government.

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