Transcript of Interview: 5AA Mornings with Leon Byner



04 June 2014

Leon Byner: When you travel around the country, or around the state, you will often- when you travel suburban-wise, you'll feel like you're travelling sometimes on a goat track because the road is all over the place. I guess some of the clay that's underneath that moves a lot, makes it really hard. But of course in the regional parts of SA, often that's where the game really is in terms of lack of safety and roads that aren't up to scratch. Now, what's really good for SA is that the state has been able to win a reasonable share of funding to do something about some of the black spots. These are traditionally the places where it is known that there are lots of accidents, or even worse, god forbid, a fatality. So let's talk about how much the investment is, and what criteria a road has got to have to get this funding. First of all, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure is Jamie Briggs. Jamie, thanks for joining us today.

Jamie Briggs: Good morning, Leon.

Leon Byner: Can you first of all explain what criteria must a road or highway have to justify funding for black spots where a committee sits and down and says: ‘yep, we're going to give it to that road’.

Jamie Briggs: Well, thanks for having me, Leon. Basically what the committee looks at—at the moment—is that there needs to be a crash history requirement in the past five years. There needs to be an improvement on what's called the BCR, the benefit-cost ratio, as in every dollar spent by government there needs to be $2 at least benefit for the economic outcome. But there can also be decisions made after a safety audit, for instance. Now, this year we've spent $60 million across the country and in SA on black spots, but next year and the year after we're adding an additional hundred million. So in the next two years there'll be $320 million spent across the country on the Black Spot Programme. And in doing so what I'm also considering at the moment is whether we can broaden the criteria a little to continue to target black spots, but also ensure that regional councils, who find it difficult, Leon, sometimes to meet some of this criteria because they just don't have the number of vehicles on the roads to justify meeting the criteria, whether we can make it a little easier for them to start identifying and addressing areas which will prevent incidents from occurring in the future. In my own electorate, Leon, I think of probably the worst roads, or the most dangerous roads, would be on Kangaroo Island.

Leon Byner: Yeah. They're goat tracks some of them.

Jamie Briggs: Well, that is partly of course the attraction of the island but, equally, we don't want a calamity with a tourist bus.

Leon Byner: Sure.

Jamie Briggs: So there are opportunities for smaller councils, which do find it difficult. That feedback from Rowan Ramsey, who's the Federal Member for Grey, who chaired the committee for me this year, was that councils in his electorate, you know, he represents 87 per cent of the state. Councils in his electorate were of the view that it was difficult for them to meet some of the criteria, and therefore they didn't participate.

Leon Byner: Alright. Okay.

Jamie Briggs: We want them to participate.

Leon Byner: Can you tell us, what are some of the roads, notably, that the Feds will be investing in, in terms of their safety?

Jamie Briggs: Well look, we're investing in quite a number in South Australia, but particularly, I guess, on Greenhill Road near the intersection of Glen Osmond Road, which is, as you would know Leon, quite a difficult intersection.

Leon Byner: Yeah. Yeah.

Jamie Briggs: And so there's some works, about $500,000 of works, there, which we're improving that intersection. We're spending a million dollars down on the Riddoch Highway in the South East, at a place called Dismal Swamp, Leon, which will then widen the field's shoulder section to improve the safety there.

Leon Byner: Sure.

Jamie Briggs: That's in the Council of Grant; it'll make a big difference. Just near the South Eastern Freeway at Callington, we're spending $500,000 to improve some of the safety on that road. So there are a range of projects across the state, in the metropolitan areas, but importantly in regional areas as well to address safety issues.

Leon Byner: Okay. Stay on the line Jamie; I've got the Senior Manager of Road Safety at the RAA, Charles Mountain. Charles, thanks for joining us. You'd be welcoming this, wouldn't you?

Charles Mountain: Yes, good morning, Leon. Yes we do. The Black Spot Funding Programme is an excellent me, because it does provide an opportunity to deal with those sites with a crash history. However we also welcome the fact that they're looking at broadening the programme because, as has been pointed out, unfortunately the number of situations what are quite worthwhile projects in their own right, when stacked up against other ones will fail to meet funding criteria, and therefore miss out. So if there's a process to enable this to be broadened out, to enable these other projects to be captured and obviously the roads then subsequently upgraded, that would be an excellent outcome from our perspective.

Leon Byner: Okay. Charles, does the RAA have vigorous participation in this project to get the funding? Do you make submissions?

Charles Mountain: Yes. Well, we're on actually on the committee, so therefore we are aware of all the nominations and the final short list. So from our perspective all the projects that subsequently been approved are certainly worthwhile. I mean in our role as a road advocate, if you like, we drive around the countryside; we look at a lot of roads, so we're certainly aware of the ones that we think are in need of attention. And unfortunately a lot of those would not fall into the current black spots funding type criteria. So again, you know, there's the opportunity to have a different funding stream that would enable some of these roads to be upgraded  which would be very welcome.

Leon Byner: Okay. So how do you nominate a road that needs work?

Charles Mountain: Through the Black Spot Programme there's an application form that the road authorities, councils, and even  individuals can put in. There's a number of criteria you need to address, talk about the issue, the history, particularly the crash history is an important part of it, the treatment, the cost, and therefore the calculation in terms of benefit-cost ratio. The alternative, to look at possibly what they call a proactive funding treatment, is whereby you can get an audit of the area done by a qualified road safety auditor that makes some recommendations on a treatment that could potentially minimise the risk of a crash occurring at a location.

Leon Byner: Alright gentlemen, thank you. Charles Mountain, thank you, and thank you to Jamie Briggs also, the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure, just giving us some pretty good news there about some of the upgrades that are going to happen, that are being funded to make our roads safer.