Oxley Highway changes anger 'Save the Oxley' group

John Alexander from the RMS Grafton office receives a petition containing 10,700 signatures of people who are against lowering the speed limit on the Oxley Highway from Ken Healey on Monday.

John Alexander from the RMS Grafton office receives a petition containing 10,700 signatures of people who are against lowering the speed limit on the Oxley Highway from Ken Healey on Monday.

Motorcyclists are not happy with the decision by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to cut back the 100km/h speed limit on a 44km stretch of the Oxley Highway between Yarrowitch and Raffles Creek by 20km/h.

Ken Healey, who is the rider behind the ‘Save the Oxley’ protest group, attended a stakeholder meeting in Wauchope on Monday with the RMS, the Member for Oxley and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey and Port Macquarie Hastings Mayor Peta Pinson. 

He said he thought the process was dictatorial.

“Ms Pavey told the meeting that the 80km/h speed limit would be non-negotiable,” he said. “Why did they bother calling a meeting if it was non-negotiable? The RMS told me it would not be an announcement but it was, and the decision was predetermined.”

During the meeting, Mr Healey presented John Alexander, the manager of the Grafton RMS office, a copy of a petition against the speed reductions with 10,700 signatures.

Ms Pinson said it was hard to argue with the reason given by the minister and her department.

“Ms Pavey said the rationale behind the decision was that there had been far too many motorcycle deaths on that section of the road,” she said. 

“I was there to represent my community as the mayor of Port Macquarie Hastings, to show support for Wauchope as a motorcycle friendly town and to hear what the RMS had to say. Upon hearing the reasons and looking at some of the data provided one cannot argue with the desire to keep people safe and alive when using our roads.”

Walcha Council sent director of engineering, Dylan Reeves, to the meeting, and he said other issues were also raised, such as the lack of mobile phone coverage, and he felt the RMS took note of the concerns raised by key stakeholders and agreed to work collaboratively to improve upon these areas.

“The impact on Walcha tourism can’t be commented on at this stage, as we feel this would be making assumptions,” he said.

Following the meeting motorcyclist Brad Keable from the Royal Cafe in Walcha, whose clientele is mainly bikers, said he was disappointed with the decision but not surprised.

“We’re not happy, but hopefully that little bit won't affect our business too much but it is going to make the road unsafer because not being able to overtake is going to make people frustrated.”