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Millions in motorcycle safety levy fees unspent

Motorcycle safety levy millions unspent

Millions of dollars of Victorian riders’ “safety levy” fees are unspent on vital road infrastructure, prompting a riders’ group to call for a 50% reduction of the annual $70 fee.

A Freedom of Information application to the Traffic Accident Commission by the Independent Riders’ Group shows that $18.5 million was unspent at the end of the 2014/15 financial year.

That amounts to nearly three years of safety levy funds and does not include about $13.2m collected in the past two financial years.

IRG motorcycle road safety advocate and author Heather Ellis says it shows that the $70 annual levy collected from Victorian motorcyclists needs to be “greatly reduced by 50% or more”.

MEAP independent Heather Ellis non her Thruxton millions
Heather Ellis on her Thruxton

“While this money sits in the TAC coffers, the Victorian State Government is most likely eyeing it off for internal revenue,” she says.

“Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned what they’re doing with the interest on ‘our’ money.”

Infrastructure projects approved

However, Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan says the $18.5 million is accounted for in recent infrastructure project approvals. (See below for the full list of approved and completed projects.)

That still does not account for the $13.2m collected in the past two years.

“Safety is our top priority and the evidence shows that motorcyclists are over-represented in serious and fatal crashes,” the Minister says.

That’s why we’re continuing to identify the routes riders use and work to make them safer through projects funded under the Motorcycle Safety Levy.

“Recent approvals include infrastructure improvements such as sealing side roads/driveways to minimise gravel entering the roadway, addition of rubrail to guardrail to prevent under running, improved delineation, and surface improvements.”

The safety levy was introduced in 2002 and, up to June 2015, had collected $66.6 million in fees to be spent on road safety projects, education and infrastructure.

Safety projects

Heather admits that millions collected by levy has paid for many safety projects.

“Since 2002, the levy has improved motorcycle safety on a number of fronts, particularly the GLS (Graduated Licensing System), as well as the surface, and therefore safety, of many popular motorcycling roads in Victoria. Roads, by the way, that are often popular with logging trucks,” Heather says.

“But it is appalling that so millions remain unspent when so many of these roads continue to be in desperate need of repair.

“One such example is the Elthan-Yarra Glen Road near Melbourne, which suffers from many patches of uneven surface.

“Recently, a significant amount of wire rope barriers were installed on this popular motorcycling road despite the government recognising that wire rope barriers should not be installed on such roads.Wire rope barriers millions

“The combination of wire rope barriers, a winding road, uneven road surface, kangaroos, and motorcyclists is an accident waiting to happen.

“This unspent $18.5 million could have greatly improved the safety of this and many other roads, and in doing so, avoid accidents and potentially save lives.”

Fellow IRG member Dale Maggs (pictured top of page) says that for some time he has been taking photos of road damage and asking VicRoads for a better level of maintenance under their duty-of-care policy.

Motorcycle safety levy millions unspent
Dale’s Sportster next to damage in Wimmera

Projects posted

The Minister points out that information about the allocation of millions in safety levy fees is placed on a VicRoads website when projects are completed.

“We’ve asked VicRoads to update the webpage when new projects are approved,” he says.

The approved projects listed below will be published shortly, the Minister says.

The Motorcycle Safety Levy program and projects are discussed at the Motorcycle Expert Advisory Panel meetings.

“VicRoads will continue to place project information on the website page for motorcycle safety,” he says.

Recent infrastructure project approvals funded by the safety levy total $18.5 million and include:millions roadworks

  • Great Alpine Road in East Gippsland, a 145km route safety improvement treatment proposal valued at $3,690,000 – completed
  • Licola Road between Licola and Heyfield in East Gippsland, a long route proposal valued at $1,078,000 – completed
  • Omeo Highway in East Gippsland, a long route proposal valued at $632,000 – completed
  • Lancefield-Woodend Road in Macedon Ranges Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $580,000
  • Mt Macedon-Hanging Rock Road in Macedon Ranges Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $122,000
  • Mt Macedon Road in Macedon Ranges Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $260,000
  • Deans Marsh-Lorne Road in Surf Coast Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $870,000
  • Daylesford-Trentham Road in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $590,000
  • Myrniong-Trentham Road in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $960,000
  • Mansfield-Whitfield Road in Mansfield Shire & Wangaratta Rural City, long route treatment proposal valued at $1,972,000
  • Healesville-Kinglake Road (Chum Creek) in Yarra Ranges Shire, long route treatment proposal valued at $301,000
  • Heidelberg-Kinglake Rd in Nillumbik Shire, route safety treatment, proposal valued at $250,000
  • Whittlesea-Yea Rd in Murrindindi Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $380,000
  • Great Alpine Rd in Alpine Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $1,890,000
  • Kyneton-Trentham Rd in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $86,000
  • Hepburn Springs Rd in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $50,000
  • Daylesford-Newstead Rd in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $162,000
  • Colac–Lavers Hill Rd in Colac-Otway Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $622,000
  • The addition of motorcyclist friendly rub-rail to guard fence safety barriers, region-wide through the Metropolitan South Eastern area, valued at $1,764,000
  • Hoddle Street Bus Lane safety improvement project $28,000
  • Targeted Road Maintenance for Motorcycle Touring Routes – $2,180,000.

Plus non-infrastructure work to promote safer riding:

  • Promote and Encourage the Uptake of Motorcycles with Safer Technology – $1,000,000 over two years.
  1. route treatment proposal . What does this term mean?
    In my days of gummint employed days if you didn’t use your annual allocation you lost it and that was it. Every year you put in for your projected allocation of funds for projects, with contingency of course, and hope to get more than last year. That is why you see a proliferation of road works, major and minor works, as well as government spending so that allocated funds are spent and you can say “See, I’ve spent my vote and will need more to carry on the good work for you next year.”
    This bulldust of funds sitting there waiting is nothing more than political smokescreens. If the works cant be finished by the end of the financial year they are channeled off into other projects to make Mr. Pollie look as if he is doing what he promised. The main problem is that now everything’s privatised there is no staff to do public works. The private contractors take the money and run. As long as the job is finished. Thats why yoi look at the freeways like the Calder and Hume in Victoria and they are woefully inadequate for smooth travel. I took a Victory for a weekend test run and couldn’t believe the state of the Calder. Unfortunately for Victory it cost them a sale.
    So don’t believe that just because a project is approved it is going to be completed. The time of year and when it can be completed as well as the contractors who get the tender all have an influence on works.

  2. Why would anyone be surprised by the deceit of Australian politicians? Once a “levy” becomes law it never goes away and after a couple of years any revenue quietly becomes more funds to allow pollies to get themselves re-elected.
    Politicians only spend these funds when another election is pending, we all know what they are doing but some people still seem to get sucked in by their “promises”. After all what is the point of spending money from a “safety levy” a couple of years out from an election when you can spend up big and spruik about it to ensure your election.

    1. “Why would anyone be surprised by the deceit of Australian politicians? Once a “levy” becomes law it never goes away and after a couple of years any revenue quietly becomes more funds to allow pollies to get themselves re-elected.”

      Completely agree! – Look at the NSW Pacific Hwy 3×3 levy (3cents per litre of fuel for 3 years). Still in effect 30+ years later.
      And, the levy placed onto “Super” (leaded) fuel that just rolled into the end price for the lead-replacement fuel and then into the price for 95-Octane fuel. No lead in the fuels anymore, levy still there, just absorbed into the ongoing price.
      It is noted in the story above that many of the VIC motorcycle roads where also routes heavily used by logging traffic. Very much the same as here is TAS. So, I gather a logging industry is covering the additional cost caused by the traffic of the heavy vehicle traffic as well? (Truckies, please chime in here to improve our understanding of the road taxes you contribute to. I am sure there are many.)
      Anyway, long story short. Agree, we are being screwed-over, as per usual.

  3. Tho they are saying that these roads will or are fixed In the Yarra valley is yet to be seen. what I have noticed in the Yarra valley is instead of fixing the problem they just seem to adjust the speed limit for example Yarra glen-Healsville road was 100kmh now is 60 and is in that bad a state a lot of local riders and drivers avoid it there is also Melba HWY in dixons creek after the overtaking lane again was 100 now down to 80. Some might say yes it’s 80 now because of all the accidents but even at 80 I’ve had trucks and cars coming around a corner hit a hole or a big dip in the road and come more than half way across in my lane, I have lived out this way most of my life and have definitely noticed a decline in maintenance to these roads.

  4. From the description of most of those so called motorcycle safety initiatives they seem to be just normal roadworks and nothing particularly motorcycle oriented or even safe beyond what is ordinarily required and all of it should have been funded out of ordinary budgets not a special motorcycle safety levy.
    Spending the money on driver and rider education and even a school road safety training scheme and perhaps special trauma centres and maybe someone to go around and assess the motorcycle friendlyness of all roads and spend some of the money on remedial works as a matter of urgency rather than waiting till someone has an accident may actually see the money do some good instead of basically being wasted as it seems to be now.

  5. I find the only way to get roads fixed is to go to the relevant roads mob in your state (online) and make a report give all details,make each one a life threatening case and within a week they will be there.
    So when it is in the system (eg reported to the authorities ) then if there is an accident they are fully liable as they have been notified of a problem.,but if you don’t report it and have an accident your on your own (cannot sue).
    I reported one section of road to an local council and they sent back an email saying it was fine so i replied under duty of care to the ratepayers you are not doing your duty,
    Within 24 hours got a reply yes and it was fixed in 3 days.
    Bottom line is report every thing you see.
    We Aussies tend to winge an winne about it and do nothing.
    My 2 bob’s worth.

  6. Long past time for an independent audit of (1) the projects (2) the claimed outcomes. Looks like the re naming of the Ministers group as ‘Experts’ is partly to avoid this..perhaps there are international published refereed professionals in this group (one would certiainly hope so) in which case could we now please see these pre and post audit reports published as they would have been done by them were that to be the case…

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