Wednesday 11 March 2009


[11.48 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam President, I think the arguments have been put eloquently and passionately, as mentioned by the member for Western Tiers and the member for Windermere.  The member for Windermere has conveyed an important community message to the department and the Government and I think it behoves the Government and the department to listen very carefully to what he is saying.  The issue of the school bus resonates with me.  It is not much good to wait until something as catastrophic as an accident with a school bus happens, and then all of a sudden, 'Oh, what was that the member for Windermere was saying?'.  You just would not want that situation to occur such as an accident like that.  There is strong information coming through from Rex Sainty, such an experienced road user and driver of buses, highlighting an issue that he has a perception of.  So I think that is really good feedback for the department, and no doubt has armed the member for Windermere with concern. 
There is obviously wide public concern about this intersection or it would not be being played out in the media or at the council the way that it has been.  When public concern is so strongly expressed it behoves the Government and the department to listen to it.
Busy T-junctions have proved in numerous locations to be hazardous, as we have heard here already.  They can involve problems of visibility and also that uncertainty of when to stop, when to go, do I have time, looking both ways trying to judge the traffic.  So they are of concern and roundabouts have just proven to be safer than junctions in a lot of places that we have heard detailed here today.
We have the instance of the development of the West Tamar Highway just before my first election.  The development of the West Tamar Highway and the roundabout that the department wanted to locate at Acropolis Drive was quite an issue.  There was a strong case put by a former road engineer who did not want the roundabout to go in there.  He put a strong case constantly about this slowing down of lanes of traffic into a funneling effect with the roundabout and then on through Legana.
I do not have anecdotal evidence here, only my own use of the highway.  The roundabout went in at Acropolis Drive to help the traffic from the industrial centre move across the two lanes, as the member was highlighting.  So it is all right when they are travelling left to go into the city; they just have the one lane to worry about.  But when they have to cross the two lanes at a slow speed because they are a heavy vehicle, across two lanes to travel north, it is a far more dangerous proposition.
We are worried about heavy traffic and certainly the issue of the school bus does resonate with me.  One function of the roundabout is to slow the traffic down, without stopping it.  I can imagine shift workers, people from Bell Bay, going up and down the highway.  You do get frustrated when you have the stop-go situation.  But I think that roundabouts are more driver-friendly regardless of the safety aspects.  They do allow you to slow down.   I think that Tasmanian drivers are becoming more knowledgeable and skilled on roundabouts.  As we have seen them develop in Tasmania, they have learnt to expect them at many of the traffic interchanges and I think they get a sense of why they are there.  They are not there to annoy and frustrate; they are there to assist with the safety of the highways.
If a roundabout saves just one life then it is has to be well worth it.
Mr Dean - It has paid for itself.
Mr FINCH - Regarding this cost of $500 000, I do not want to be flippant about $500 000 but the development of a highway has caused concern particularly to the people of Dilston and the people who are going to move into that area.  Young parents are looking at the safety aspects of the area that they want to live in.  They are going to be concerned, 'Hang on, we have a major highway passing here.  Is it a safe highway to use?'.  What we are learning these days is that a roundabout is much safer than a T-junction.
I support the member's motion.  As I have suggested, this is most important feedback from the community delivered by the member for Windermere.