The Nationals WA have slammed Labor for putting the lives of city dwellers ahead of those in the bush after confirmation the McGowan Government pulled more than $10 million out of a road safety fund to pay for a new police helicopter.
Questions from The Nationals police and road safety spokesperson Martin Aldridge over the last three months culminated in an admission from the Road Safety Minister on Tuesday that she had gone against expert advice to syphon funds from the Road Trauma Trust Account (RTTA) to pay for the new chopper.
Mr Aldridge said the Minister’s “stunning” decision to override advice from the Road Safety Council would put the lives of regional motorists at risk in favour of a helicopter predominantly used in Perth.
“Motorists in regional Western Australia are more likely to be fatally or seriously injured than those in the metro area. This decision takes funds away from programs and investments that are proven to reduce the risk on our country roads,” Mr Aldridge said.
“The Minister for Road Safety Michelle Roberts has taken the extraordinary step to direct the Road Safety Council to allocate funds for a new police chopper. Then, when the council refused, she arrogantly overrode them.
Advice from the Road Safety Council to the Minister in response to her ministerial direction included:
“When assessed against the principles normally used to consider RTTA funding proposals, the Council was not able to identify evidence of quantifiable road safety benefits and cost benefits.”
The RSC went on to warn the State Government of an “opportunity cost” arising from using RTTA funds by taking away limited resources from initiatives proven to save lives on WA roads.
“The Minister’s decision to ignore the expert advice from her own road safety advisers brings into question her judgement and suitability to hold the portfolio,” Mr Aldridge said.
“The Minister’s cost-shift has undoubtedly placed road users in Western Australia at risk.
“There is no question that WA Police should have access to a modern fleet of rotary wing aircraft, this is a question of how the replacement helicopter should be funded.
“Make no mistake, sneaky deals like this have become commonplace since the McGowan Government took power.
“Labor are hell-bent on cost-shifts which allows them to fund a long list of extravagant election commitments, such as Metronet, to the detriment of those who live in regional Western Australia.”
The Nationals police and road safety spokesperson Martin Aldridge questions Road Safety Minister.