17 October 2022

Dr Joe wants to put speed camera fines into potholes

| Chris Roe
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Dr Joe McGirr

Dr Joe McGirr is calling on the State Government to put speeding fine revenue into pothole repairs. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga’s independent MP Dr Joe McGirr has called on the State Government to use the money raised from mobile speed camera fines to help fix our pothole-ravaged roads.

“They said right at the start that the money would go back into road safety,” he explained.

“I reckon that fixing potholes would be the perfect way of addressing road safety, and to be honest, it would be a bit of a win for the Government.”

In a major backflip last week, the NSW Government confirmed it would reintroduce warning signs ahead of mobile speed camera cars after a record increase in fines and accusations of revenue raising.

READ ALSO POLL: Is the pothole problem a national disaster?

In the first year after the signs were removed, there was a tenfold increase in the number of fines issued.

At the same time, there was an increase in the state’s road death toll, allowing critics to question the point of the policy.

“They’ve reversed their position and then they’ve still collected all that money,” said Dr McGirr, who filed a notice of motion calling for the estimated $45 million in fines to go back into the roads.

“I think the $45 million clearly wouldn’t be enough, but what I’m suggesting is to use that to start a fund and to recognise this for what it is, which is a state disaster.

“It’s causing damage to people’s vehicles from scotched tyres to wrecked wheel alignment and balancing, and they actually are dangerous when people lose control and swerve to avoid them.”

Potholes on a street

A lack of sunshine means roads are too wet to repair properly. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Local councils have been in the firing line as residents vent their frustration, but Wagga City Council’s director of infrastructure services Warren Faulkner explains that there’s only so much that can be done in the wet.

“There’s too much moisture in the ground and not enough heat to draw that out,” he said.

“That’s prolonging the damage to our roads, not just here in Wagga, it’s across the state.”

Mr Faulkner said any major repairs would require dry weather but in the meantime, temporary patches were the only option.

“We realise we’re filling potholes with water in them and we do that to provide a safe road surface and yes, whilst it’s bumpy and things, it’s about road safety and we understand that they don’t last and we’re not expecting them to last in this sort of environment.”

READ ALSO Potholes and shoddy roads spark calls for more action

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack also put out a call last week for the Commonwealth to step up and make regional roads a priority.

“The roads have never been worse – anywhere you go,” he said, offering to take the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development on a tour of Riverina roads.

“Road safety has to come first and this government needs to understand regional people rely on our roads to get to and from work, to take their children to school and to sport or other activities.”

Dr McGirr agrees that the issue goes beyond the states.

“Probably our biggest single national asset is roads,” he said.

“And regional roads, frankly, are the lifeblood of the regions.

“With the level of damage and the amount of rain, which is clearly going to continue by all accounts, I think you could argue that we are in the midst of a disaster situation.”

Should the Commonwealth provide emergency funding for the pothole crisis?

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When Michael McCormack & his coalalition government was in power he commented how lucky we were to have such great regional roads they all didn’t deteriorate because of wet weather conditions.

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