Northern Territory chief minister Michael Gunner has confirmed today that manufacturers will be allowed to perform high-speed testing in the top end under a new permit and exemption system.
Following its win in the recent NT elections, the Labor government said it would immediately reinstate a maximum 130km/h limit on all highways, putting an end to the open speed limit trial introduced by the Country Liberal party in February 2014.
Despite no speed-related fatalities occurring on the unrestricted stretch of road during the trial, the Labor said it is “backing calls from experts in the field like the Police Association and Austrailan Medical Assocation who have called for 130km/h to be brought back in those zones.”
The Northern Territory’s derestricted roads and unique climate has made it a favourite of vehicle manufacturers for hot-weather and durability testing, with Aston Martin and Honda recent visitors during development of the DB11 and NSX respectively.
Other manufacturers, most notably Bentley and Porsche, have used the Northern Territory to film high-speed promotional videos, though Bentley was forced to remove its video as it was found to contravene Australia’s strict advertising standards.
In an effort to retain this sector of the economy, chief minister Gunner said in a statement “I have instructed the Northern Territory Department of Transport to develop a simple permit and exemption system which will allow high-speed vehicle testing. The vehicle testing sector plays an important role in supporting the central Australian economy, one which I am keen to strengthen and grow.”
Porsche Austraila’s Public Relations Manager, Paul Ellis, has been highly critical of the decision to re-introduce speed limits but welcomes the government’s approach. “[The government] has put out a letter to all manufacturers which we have received and there are options to do high-speed runs so that’s good. Previously we didn’t have to put in any permits; this has created a process now.”