Green road pact on 30km/h limits

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is set to attend the Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Sweden in February. Picture: AAPDeputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is set to attend the Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Sweden in February. Picture: AAP

Australia is preparing to sign an international road safety declaration in Sweden that endorses a 30km/h limit on suburban roads in response to "traffic injuries, air quality and climate change".

Nationals leader Michael McCormack is scheduled to attend the Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety on February 19, where he will join other transport and infrastructure ministers in ratifying the Stockholm Declaration, which will be referred to the UN. A draft obtained by The Weekend Australian includes a preamble recommending integration of road safety with UN Sustainable Development Goals, including climate action, gender equality and reduced inequalities targets.

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The summit is expected to endorse speeding up the "shift toward cleaner, safer and more affordable modes of transport, incorporating higher levels of physical activity such as walking, cycling and using public transit". Clause seven of the draft declaration suggests mandating lower speeds on urban roads, which would have a significant impact on Australian residential limits, currently 50km/h. It resolves to strengthen "law enforcement to ensure zero speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed limit of 30km/h ... in residential areas and urban neighbourhoods within cities as efforts to reduce speed will have an impact on both road traffic injuries, air quality and climate change".

The two-day road safety summit, which includes sessions with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Prince Michael of Kent, will also focus on "sustainable transport". The Stockholm Declaration calls on public and private organisations to purchase "safe and sustainable vehicle fleets". It flags addressing "the connections between road safety, mental and physical health, development, education, equity, gender equality, environment and climate change".

A spokesman for Mr McCormack said the Deputy Prime Minister "has had no approval or input into the wording of the current draft text". "The draft Stockholm Declaration will be considered at the Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in February," he said. Despite The Weekend Australian understanding Mr McCormack and his chief of staff were confirmed to represent the government in Sweden, his spokesman said they were not sure whether his "schedule will permit him to attend". "If the Deputy Prime Minister does attend, the draft text will be carefully reviewed and the government would provide input where necessary," he said.

If he pulls out, Assistant Road Safety Minister Scott Buchholz would likely attend. Mr McCormack did not answer questions on whether he supported 30km/h limits, integrating road safety with climate action or if the government would purchase a "sustainable vehicle fleet". In October, Scott Morrison delivered a speech urging Australia to "avoid any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community ...

And worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy". Mr McCormack's visit comes after the Australian Automobile Association in August warned about government inaction on the national road safety strategy. The AAA released analysis showing only nine of 33 individual safety performance indicators were "on track" to be met.

Pressure is also building on the Coalition to accelerate policy settings in response to the influx of electric vehicles.

Federal Political Correspondent

Geoff Chambers is The Australian's Federal Political Correspondent. He was previously The Australian's Canberra Bureau Chief and Queensland Bureau Chief. Before joining the national broadsheet he was News Edito...

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