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Thursday, 19 June 2003
Page: 17128

Mr ZAHRA (12:41 PM) —Because of the limited amount of time that I have to contribute to this debate, I will just deal directly with a number of questions that I have for the minister. I want to reiterate the point made by the member for Batman a bit earlier about how bitterly disappointed we on this side are that the Minister for Transport and Regional Services has not even had the decency or courtesy to show up and answer these questions himself. Nevertheless, we will ask the junior minister here at the table if he could pass them on to the senior minister and, hopefully, get a response and repeat it on his behalf in this chamber.

My questions to the minister are these. Your proposed compulsory national driver education scheme has now been put to the Australian Transport Council. How does this scheme fit in with the national road safety strategy? My second question is: what is the overall cost expected for—

Mr Tuckey —A compulsory what scheme?

Mr ZAHRA —I will repeat the question if you would like. It is the compulsory national driver education scheme. Maybe you could get an ear trumpet, Wilson. What is the overall cost expected for the scheme? Will you explain the breakdown as to who will fund it and at what percentage of the overall funding? From which program will the Commonwealth funding commitment be allocated? Is that money already committed in the forward budget figures? Do you have a commitment from the automotive industry to fund their share? If so, which organisations will be contributing? If not, don't you think it is a bit rich to promise on behalf of the industry that they will fund it? Have the state and territory governments given a firm commitment to fund your proposal? Isn't it the case that the Victorian Minister for Transport publicly questioned the scheme and indicated that support for the proposal from the ATC was fairly lukewarm?

The second issue I will address is the road safety review and variable speed limits on highways. I have a number of questions I want to address to the minister at the table; he can go to the senior minister, get an answer, come back and, hopefully, report to the chamber. Minister, can you confirm that you have instructed the transport committee to review measures to improve road safety? What were you hoping to get out of the committee? Did you provide them with any terms of reference? What has the committee undertaken to this stage? Can we expect them to report back to you at any time in the near future? Will you let the parliament know what they say? Further on that, can you confirm that the same committee has completed a report that you commissioned into the potential to apply variable speed limits on sections of the national highway as a case study for intelligent transport systems? The committee has reported back to the senior minister, the minister for transport, but they are waiting and the parliament is waiting for his response. Why hasn't the minister responded? When can we expect a response? Is it the case that this particular report was aimed at testing the waters in relation to an increase in speed limits on some sections of the national highway?

Because of the limited time the government has made available for this debate, I will wrap up at this point. I conclude by saying how bitterly disappointed we are that the junior minister is here and not the senior minister. We would very much like to hear from the Minister for Transport and Regional Services. He gets the salary; he is the responsible person; he should be here to answer the questions.