An idea from police to save lives by lowering speed limits on dirt roads has quickly turned the corner into a politician fight.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said the Victorian government would look into a trial to test the benefits of reducing limits down from 100km/h.
Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said he was not comfortable driving at more than 70km/h on unsealed roads, especially because drivers would be instantly dead if they crashed into any of the trees positioned close to the road.
He said forcing drivers to travel more slowly was “a legitimate and a life-saving function is speed reduction”.
“For me it highlights ‘is 100 really appropriate?’. I’m just really keen to have that community discussion, consultation, even argument – but let’s get it out there,” Assistant Commissioner Fryer said.
“The amount of pain that’s being felt by that family (of a fatal crash victim) is just incredible. Let’s not lose sight that this affects our members too, they’ve seen horrendous death and injury on our roads.”
Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy called the idea “a slap in the face for local motorists” and criticised the government for considering the trial.
“The state government is spending less on road maintenance, causing our roads to crumble and putting lives at risk,” he said.
“The better solution is to provide adequate funding to maintain and upgrade our country roads.”
The MP said it was an example of a Melbourne-centric approach.
“Instead of fixing the roads the Andrews Government just wants to slow our local drivers down,” Mr McCurdy said.
His Nationals colleague and Euroa MLA Steph Ryan was also critical of lowering speed limits, calling the idea “bull” and launched into a Twitter spat with Ms Neville.
“2 step plan for @LisanevilleMP to improve road safety: 1. Fund road maintenance 2. Employ enough police to actually enforce,” she tweeted.
Ms Neville replied that the unsealed roads were “council roads that people dying on” and the government had funded a 20 per cent increase in police resources.
Mr McCurdy has asked for public feedback at www.haveyoursayvictoria.org.