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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2300

Senator BOSWELL —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is the minister aware that, as a consequence of Australian design rule 69 requiring that bullbars on vehicles with airbags must be certified by vehicle manufacturers, this in effect creates a monopoly situation for bullbars for vehicle manufacturers? As a consequence, it will see the death of the local independent bullbar industry which presently employs 4,500 people—many in the bush—and has an annual turnover of $200 million. Will the minister give an assurance that a standard will be created to soften the requirement of ADR69 following the precedent already set for towbars to allow Australian market bullbar manufacturers to continue their participation in the bullbar market?

Senator COLLINS —Unfortunately, I do not have any current information about this issue in the transport brief in my possession, but I am familiar with the general issue, of course. It has been a long time since I have had a look at the issue in relation to bullbars. I concede that in the bush it is no small issue. I would not want to simply assume that nothing has happened in the last six months in that regard. I am not aware of any proposal to ban bullbars in the bush. I can assure Senator Boswell that I personally would oppose any such proposal. Bullbars are an essential safety measure in rural Australia for bush driving. I own one myself and I personally would not be without it.

  I will refer Senator Boswell's question to the Minister for Transport, Mr Brereton. I must acknowledge that there is a problem concerning the fitting of bullbars to vehicles that are fitted with airbags. It is a real problem, and it is related to the effect of the bullbar triggering the airbag, which means that the safety factor meant to be provided by the airbag is therefore not provided. That is a potential problem. Whether it needs to be overcome by a design rule which is controlled only by manufacturers is another question. I will refer the question to Mr Brereton for a more complete answer. I simply reiterate that I am not aware of any proposal to ban bullbars in the bush.