Porsche Australia has defended open speed limits in the wake of the Northern Territory Government’s decision to remove unrestricted speed zones.
With a landslide election in the Territory last month, the new Labor Government confirmed plans to restrict speed limits to 130km/h.
Paul Ellis, the director of public relations for Porsche Cars Australia, told the ABC the decision to slam the brakes on the NT’s open speed limits will come at a cost for international car companies such as Porsche, stumping its ability to use the roads for testing and marketing purposes.
"We've done a pretty good job of killing off the local car industry, the manufacturing of local cars in Australia, and now it seems the Northern Territory government's doing its best to deter international car companies from coming to Australia to spend money and invest in the local economy," he told the ABC.
Sturt Highway between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek has allowed motorists to drive at unlimited speeds along a 200km stretch of road since 2014 as part of a two-year trial put in place by the Country Liberal Party. In July, the government added another 100km of open limits, extending the network to 300km, removing trees, widening curves and improving signage.
But this isn’t the first time the Northern Territory has changed speed restrictions. In 2006, the NT’s then Labor Government reduced the open speed limits to 130km/h. In the six years that followed, more deaths were recorded than the six years before.
Incoming Chief Minister Michael Gunner, who had support from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, said the changes were made in favour of public safety and will be applied by the end of the year.
But Ellis still disagrees, telling the ABC: “Speed does not kill, bad driving kills. And it's just a shame we've taken a nanny state approach."
Open speed limits have long been open to debate with one school believing it reduces fatalities, while others showing concern for the safety of motorists. With speeds above 130km/h, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Denmark all record lower deaths per year compared with Australia.