Mildura Weekly : Friday January 3 2014 Vol 8 No 9
www.milduraweekly.com.au 4 Mildura Weekly – 03/01/14 VICTORIA recorded its low- est road toll in almost 90 years in 2013, with 40 fewer deaths than the previous year. But it’s bitter-sweet news for those who’ve lost loved ones over the past 12 months. Two hundred and forty- two people lost their lives on Victorian roads last year, the lowest number since 1924, when 224 were killed. Victoria Police Road Po- licing Command Assistant Commissioner, Robert Hill, PICTURED, said the work of police, road safety partners and government had con- tributed to the lower road toll, but stressed and more work needed to be done. “The fact we have 40 fewer people killed on our roads this year means little to those who have lost loved ones to road trauma,” As- sistant Commissioner Hill said. “Road trauma has a pro- found effect on families, friends and communities, and my thoughts go out to all those who have lost a loved friend or family mem- ber. While it’s been a posi- tive year in terms of the State’s road toll, the past two months have been a shocking period on roads in the Sunraysia region, with six people killed in four sep- arate incidents. Two people aged in their 50s were killed in a single vehicle incident on the Pooncarie Road, north of Wentworth, at the begin- ning of November, while amaninhis20sdiedina single vehicle collision at Nichols Point just days later. About two weeks later, on November 22, a woman was killed in a collision be- tween a small sedan and a van on the Calder Highway near Carwarp. Then, three days before Christmas, two women died in a head-on collision, again on the Calder High- way, near Ouyen. Provision road toll re- sults released this week re- vealed there were 142 coun- try road deaths in 2013, slightly down on the previ- ous year, but more than in metropolitan areas (100). More than half of those killed on Victorian roads last year were male (66.1 percent). Police say young people aged 18 to 24 continue to be over-represented in road trauma at 13.6 percent, however this is down on the previous year, when young people accounted for 21 percent of accidents. The figures also reveal a growing trend in the num- ber of older drivers (aged 70 to 79) killed on the roads, increasing by 38 percent in the 12 months to the end of 2013. December recorded the highest number of fatalities with 29 deaths, while June recorded the lowest with 13. There was a slight in- crease in the number of pe- destrians and motorcyclists killed in the past 12 months and a significant drop in the number of drivers who lost their lives (17.1 percent). Acting Victorian Premier Peter Ryan said while the ultimate aim was to bring the road toll down to zero, several government initia- tives had helped save lives over the past 12 months, including the introduction of the Graduated Licensing System and the Safer Road Infrastructure Program. “The Victorian Coalition Government Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, unveiled in March, included some bold new initiatives to build on these gains,” Mr Ryan said. “We asked Victorians to tell us what they thought would help save lives and reduce injuries on our roads. “Victorians called for more enforcement, a strong approach to those doing the wrong thing and more edu- cation, and we’ve listened.” Road toll results bitter-sweet SUNRAYSIA’s more than 70 commercial houseboats are almost totally booked out as visitors from as far away as New Zealand flock to the area for the tradi- tionally busy Christmas/ New Year break. Mildura Wentworth Houseboat Owners As- sociation president, Chris Durban, PICTURED, said while some bookings have come in slightly later than previous years, almost every boat has now been booked for the coming few weeks. Mr Durban, who also runs Willandra House- boats, said the Christmas break and Easter were the busiest times of the year for houseboat operators, with waiting lists already building for next Christ- mas. “We’re already getting bookings for next year and there are already waiting lists on some boats for next year as well, though our current customers have the first option to re-book,” he said. Mr Durban said one of the new trends this year was the increase in visitors from New Zealand, which he attributed to a success- ful marketing campaign in that country by both MWHOA and Mildura Tourism. Hesaiditwasapo- tentially lucrative market for Sunraysia houseboat operators that given New Zealand didn’t have the near perfect riverine en- vironment for houseboat holidays that Sunraysia did, with few, if any, slow flowing rivers suitable for houseboats. The majority of visitors to the district however still come from Melbourne and both country New South Wales and Victoria. While the recent clo- sure of Lock 11 was a set- back for some houseboat users and operators, Mr Durban said it hadn’t had a major impact. “There were a few peo- ple wanting to go down- stream that were affected, but the guys did a good job working on the lock and got it back up and running. It hasn’t interfered too much,” he said. While pleased that this year’s peak period was fol- lowing the trend set down in previous years, Mr Dur- ban said the winter market was still an area for im- provement. “We really need to get the word out there that houseboats in this area aren’t just a summer thing,” he said. “People lose sight of how good the river is over the winter months in Sun- raysia and that’s something I’d like to see rectified.” Another plus for both tourism and houseboat op- erators this year is the near perfect Murray River condi- tions. While last year was unaffected, previous years have seen water conditions impacted by ‘dirty water’ events and varying river levels. Meanwhile, the wider tourism market appears to be following a similar trend to previous years with a slight lull before Christmas before the major influx from now onwards. Boom period for our houseboats • From Page 3 Using this week’s New Year’s Eve as an example, in Melbourne there was free pub- lic transport from 6pm on Tuesday until 5am New Year’s Day, as well as additional tram and train services. And due to major works between Melbourne and both Ballarat and Bendigo, buses were introduced to replace trains in those areas. Cr Milne said despite Mil- dura’s distance from Mel- bourne, the municipality shouldn’t be expected to settle for sub-par facilities compared to cities such as Ballarat and Bendigo. “We should expect the same here. And if it’s the government footing the bill in Melbourne, well, we’re Victorians here as well, we should be treated the same way,” he said. “If the government’s fund- ing it in Melbourne they should fund it in other major cities.” More taxis not the answer South Australian water police are disappointed to have detect- ed three people operating boats and water skiing while above the 0.05 blood alcohol level on the River Murray during the Christ- mas-New Year break. The Murray Water Opera- tions Unit patrolled the area around Morgan as part of the continuing Operation Riversafe, and reported that a 23-year-old Gulfview Heights man was oper- ating a vessel while over the legal limit, returning a blood alcohol reading of 0.11 . Two other people were also reported for operating a vessel and skiing while above the legal alcohol limit that same week- end. Police also issued three expi- ation notices to drivers for oper- ating a vessel while unlicensed, operating an unregistered boat, and failing to carry a life jacket for each person on board. Water Operations Police say they will continue to patrol SA waters, and urge everyone to consider their own personal safety, and that of others on board, while enjoying the holi- day period. Boaties over .05 limit TWO 22-year-old men from Monash had their cars impound- ed and will be required to appear in court after they were caught doing burnouts on the morning of Sunday, December 22. Just before 12.30am, po- lice attended Browns Road at Monash, after burnouts left ex- tensive markings on the road. One of the men was charged with failing to truly answer questions and misuse of a mo- tor vehicle, while the other was reported for misuse of a motor vehicle. Both are due to appear in Berri Magistrate’s Court at a later date, while their cars were impounded for 28 days. 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Friday December 20 2013 Vol 8 No 8
Friday January 10 2014 Vol 8 No 10