The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) has expressed concern about the lack of funding for road safety in the 2022-23 Federal Budget.
ACRS President, Mr Martin Small said “Of the $17.9 billion in new commitments to road, rail and community infrastructure announced in the 2022-23 budget very little is for the express purpose of making our roads safer for all road users.”
The lack of transparent funding for road safety initiatives is particularly troubling as this is the first Federal Budget since the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) 2021-2030 was released by the Federal and State Infrastructure Ministers.
ACRS strongly supports the NRSS collective goal agreed to by Australian governments to achieve ‘Vision Zero’ which is the elimination of deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 2050. Disappointingly the 2022-23 Federal Budget offers limited road safety funding to support Vision Zero and the Strategy’s more urgent 2030 targets of reducing fatalities by 50 per cent and serious injuries by 30 per cent.
“This lack of funding to achieve the goals set out by the Australian governments in the National Road Safety Strategy is highly concerning. The Federal Government has committed to the goal of Vision Zero but has provided no means to get there.” continued Mr Small.
ACRS Chief Executive Officer Dr Ingrid Johnston stated “The only way we reduce road fatalities by 50 per cent in the next 8 years is if the Strategy is fully funded, implemented, and monitored with transparency. This Federal Budget does little to ensure its success”.
There were some road safety bright spots in the budget including $180.1 million to establish the Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program, and the $140 million for WA Regional Road Safety Upgrades, along with $6 million to the Amy Gillett Foundation to improve road safety for cyclists.
These highlights were somewhat overshadowed by the lack of additional funding for the $3 billion Road Safety Program, initiated in the 2020-21, a program the budget referred to as a short-term stimulus initiative. Just this week the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Road Safety released its final report with 61 recommendations that include a call for the continuation of the Road Safety Program over the life of the NRSS and an increase to the funding available.
“ACRS encourages the Government to consider the recommendations made by the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety as well as the commitments made to achieving Vision Zero when determining funding in the future” Dr Johnston concluded.