So, if “Speed Kills”, and “Every ‘K’ over is a killer” as the nanny state will have us believe, can someone please explain to me why the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory is not Australia’s “Road of Blood”?

Until 2007, this, and other major highways in the Northern Territory, were ‘open’ speed limited. This meant that drivers were able to set their own speed limits, coupled with the responsibility of driving to the road conditions, safely and within their driving capabilities. But in 2007 the NT government was held to ransom by the federal government to get on board with their “Speed Kills” rhetoric and were made to introduce limits of 110k/h and 130k/h to main arterial roads being used to allow the majority of Territory traffic to get around.

While this move was cloaked in a smokescreen of ‘road safety’, unfortunately for road users in the NT, this meant more lives lost in the next 6 years than that of the previous 6 when open speed limits applied. In the 6 years prior to the introduction of speed restrictions 292 people lost their lives on NT roads – most of which were not even on the major highways, and then 307 people lost their lives on the 6 years after. So, it would appear, that after approximately 8 years of this failed ‘experiment’ into following the nanny state agenda, the NT has decided to re-open the Stuart Highway, in sections, to ‘open’ speed limits once again.

An NT Government spokesperson has been quoted in an online article from in August 2015 as saying “Over the past 10 years, there has not been a single speed-related fatality on this stretch of road.”

This ‘anomaly’ in the world of “speed = death” that currently exists in Australia begs a number of questions to be asked?

  • Is there some merit to the argument that there is an optimum speed limit that maximises driver concentration, minimises distraction, yet maintains safety for road users?
  • Or is it simply that Territorians are better drivers at higher speeds than the rest of Australians?
  • Is there merit to allowing drivers to take personal responsibility for the way they use the roads to maximise their own safety and the safety of others?
  • Or is the NT government so efficient in its spending that it doesn’t require the revenue stream from speeding fines that other governments around Australia appear to be addicted to?
  • Is it simply that there are no road hazards in the NT, like there is in other regions of Australia, to allow people to regulate their own driving behaviour in this way?
  • Are there no caravans, road trains, bicycles, motorcycles or animals in the NT that can cause interference to a motorists’ passage?
  • Is the Stuart Highway a multi-lane road with multiple overtaking lanes where slower vehicles can pull off or allow vehicles to pass?
  • Is it possible, that with a greater emphasis on competency based, nationally consistent driver/rider education, and a far greater emphasis on personal responsibility on the road, we can break free from the ‘nanny state’ oppression that tells us we are all going to crash, it’s just a matter of minimising the impact, and enjoy the motoring experience in safety, after all?

The answer to these, and many other questions in relation to the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ that is the open speed limits of the Northern Territory should be put to all state and territory governments, as well as the federal government – who’s job is to act in the best interests of Australian road users when it comes to effective life saving measures, as the evidence is before them, that ‘speed’ is not the enemy, and people are capable of self-regulation for the safety of themselves and others on our roads.

Blog written by
Judith Kuerschner
Senate Candidate for South Australia
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party