Tuesday 27 October 2009
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Madam Deputy President, most of the points that need to be covered in respect of this motion have been covered, but I just wanted to make a couple of points.  I was involved in motorway construction at one stage during my career in another life.  We were actually building a motorway between Liverpool and Hull as the M61 north of Spaghetti Junction, north of Manchester, and I was working on the section through Rochedale.

Mr Wing - Did you design that?

Mr FINCH - Modesty prevents me from telling you at what level I was involved.  Sometimes it was at a higher level when I was actually working on the overpass.

Members laughing.

Mr Dean - Were you holding the tape for the engineers?

Mr FINCH - Okay, I have been exposed.  Yes, I was a pipe layer on the motorway, so I actually worked below the motorway.  I worked with a very competent and highly-regarded company called McAlpine.  In fact, the people who worked for the company were called McAlpine's fusiliers, and generally they were of Irish descent and it was an employer for the Irish community who wanted to earn big money on the motorways or in construction in England.  It was a pleasure to work with them, actually, because they are very strong in their work ethic.  We would start at seven o'clock in the morning and work until probably seven o'clock in the evening - a 12-hour day, mainly because we were on contracts so the more we worked and the harder we worked the more money we made.  The point I want to make is the high level of professionalism that every worker on that motorway construction with McAlpine showed.  They were very particular to the nth degree as to how they constructed the highway, the quality of the material that they used and the finished result.

When I came back to Australia and made a comparison between the conditions that I had been working in and the way we constructed the highways and roads in Tasmania, I really noticed the difference in their finishing off work, particularly on the motorways.  Where I had been working overseas they really liked to manicure the roadsides and took into consideration and made pleasant the view for people who travel through the countryside.  Here in Tasmania and in Australia, we do not worry about cutting slices through hillsides and then just leaving the bare hillside there.  There is just a scar on the escutcheon for you to see as you are driving through whereas on the motorway they would level that off, round it off and replant it with grass and trees.  The level of expertise employed produced the better result.

It is interesting to recall some of the construction work that has taken place in Tasmania, and the members for Launceston and Windermere might recall this too.  On a section of the highway between Launceston and the airport the wrong base was used and it all had to be pulled up and reconstructed.  The base initially used on the highway was of an inferior quality and not appropriate.  I  suggest that with proper scrutiny that sort of thing would not occur.  That area, even though rectified, is still very bumpy indeed.

I suppose the area that I would be most concerned about in my own experience of travelling the highway and of reading where the accidents occur is the Oatlands area.  It is really quite interesting because the roads at Oatlands are quite well constructed, apart from the odd pothole or two here or there.  Certainly a lot of money has been spent in that area, yet still, continually, the accidents and deaths occur there.  In fact, my next-door neighbour was involved - probably about three years ago - in quite a serious accident; there were deaths there.  She came through that quite okay but it was really quite confronting for her.  As the member for Launceston was pointing out, it is the collateral damage of these accidents through family, friends and partners that we need to be ever mindful of.

We have come to realise that we have to be respectful of the driving conditions.  It is not about getting on the highway and, because you enjoy to drive, just relaxing and enjoying the drive.  You have to be far more conscious of what might occur on the highway and the potential dangers in travelling at our 100 kph or 110 kph.  I was comparing notes with somebody I passed on the highway this morning who had been booked for speeding.  You might know the section of road as you come out of Kempton - all that roadwork that is occurring through the hillside where there were those unfortunate deaths of the students -

Mr Dean - Constitution Hill.

Mr FINCH - Constitution Hill - the improvements that are being made there.  I know it is difficult as you come out of Kempton; there is an 80 kph sign that is on top of the hill and a friend of mine this morning overlooked that and was still slowing down when he was picked up by the police for speeding.  I phoned him later and we were comparing notes about the fact of the cruise control and how he lives by it.  I live by the cruise control now in the car and I have increased my concentration there, also my concentration generally, particularly on speed signs and road construction where police do take a special interest to make sure that people do obey the signs for the safety of the people working on the highways as well.

It was good that the honourable member for Western Tiers introduced the debate; everybody is concerned.  I think it will be a good thing.  I support the motion.