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Trucks - Maydena and Westerway

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Tags: Log Trucks

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Chair, I rise tonight to speak about a matter of significant concern to the residents of Maydena and Westerway, and I am not the member for Lyons but this is an issue I am concerned will not be raised by other members in this place because of the matters involved.

There was a community meeting at Westerway on Thursday 17 May 2018. It was to discuss an increasing level of worry amongst residents, of Maydena particularly, about the increase numbers of log trucks moving through Maydena and the limestone quarry approved by the Derwent Valley Council through a process which the locals now believe was opaque and rushed over the Christmas period. Safety concerns came up about the log trucks on the narrow, winding Gordon River Road. Residents recognise that up to 60 trucks a day will also be using the road from the new Jenkins limestone quarry west of Maydena.

My understanding is the limestone quarry has been approved and, as a project of state significance, the Derwent Valley Council made no comment in relation to community concerns. It simply indicated it was a matter for State Growth. One particular focus of concern is the safety risk to school children in Westerway, which has a primary school on the main road with no footpaths and houses located too close to the road to enable construction of a footpath.

I acknowledge Labor MLC, Craig Farrell, attended this meeting and I hope he raises this issue with the Minister for State Growth and the Minister for Infrastructure. For anyone who wants to know why the locals are so worried, there is a picture here from Westerway last week. It was posted on Tasmania Times and it shows schoolchildren and a log truck driver working really hard not to place the schoolchildren at risk. You can see from this image, the log truck driver and the schoolchildren are put in a difficult situation because of the road.

The representation made on Tasmania Times by residents, Andrew Kellett and Bert Lawatsch, say this –

Do you enjoy a drive to Mt Field or the South West or perhaps you enjoy fly fishing in the Tyenna River? If so, I’m sure you are aware of the condition of the underfunded section of road from Maydena to Westerway.

Now you will have to deal with the recently approved 80+ year life span Jenkins Limestone quarry, just 1.8kms west of Maydena, that will be predominantly using Gordon River Rd as a supply route, with the development proposal stating up to 60 truck movements a day.

The development proposal was released to the public over the Xmas period 2016-17 when people would have had limited time and awareness to write a submission … Also unbelievably, most Derwent Valley councillors were unaware of the development 10 days before they had to vote on it, having then to read 400+ pages of a development proposal.

The Tyenna Valley contains a number of outstanding natural assets that attract both local residents and visitors from afar. These include the Mt Field and the South West National Park, Styx forest World Heritage area, the newly opened Maydena Bike Park as well as many caves, rivers and streams, all of which are growing our tourism.

Despite the large recreational visitation, state government and some councillors do not see a problem with increasing heavy vehicle traffic from new developments along the same road that the visitors and residents use.

Gordon River Road between Westerway and Maydena is a windy and narrow road, with no shoulders to enable car drivers to give more room for approaching trucks. The road is completely unsuitable for trucks, yet no traffic assessment was undertaken from Maydena to Westerway for the quarry development proposal.

This correspondence continues but I ask the Minister for Infrastructure, why was a traffic analysis not done before the limestone quarry was approved? What sort of analysis was done of the road safety repercussions of having log trucks travel down that road and now having around 60 truck movements going through the place as a result of the limestone quarry?

Bert Lawatsch says in this article -

If there is a death or injury due to a truck/car collision on this section of road, I believe the local council and state Government are responsible, since the safety problem has now been pointed out to them. Westerway in particular is a death trap with no footpaths, a local school and small distances between children and passing log trucks. What will it take, the death of a child before the council and Government act?

This is a challenge to the Minister for State Growth and to the Minister for Infrastructure. This is a matter that should be of concern to the Liberal members for Lyons. I note they were not represented at this community meeting.

Surely we can all agree we need to keep our children safe on the roads, we need to keep visitors who come to this island and are not used to our road conditions and the number of heavy vehicles on some road. We need to take some responsibility. As a parliament, we need to tackle this. The first place this needs to be dealt with is through the Minister for Infrastructure. He should be engaging much more closely with this community, who are deeply concerned and believe the safety of their children will be even more at risk when the limestone quarry is fully operational. They want to hear from their elected representatives in Lyons, from the Liberal Party, and they want some answers from the Minister for Infrastructure.

I call on the minister, on behalf of the residents, to provide those answers and engage with that community because the last thing we want is for those words by Bert Lawatsch to be prescient and true. We can avoid a tragedy by dealing with this issue.