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Notice given 11 July 2001

3698  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Since January 1998, how many accidents involving road trains have occurred in the Northern Territory.

(2) How many of the above accidents: (a) involved a vehicle roll-over; (b) resulted in death; (c) involved another vehicle.

(3) In each case: (a) what investigation was carried out into the cause of the accident; (b) did the vehicle have rear air suspension; and (c) what was the outcome of each investigation.

3699  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Since January 1998, how many accidents involving road trains have occurred in Queensland.

(2) How many of the above accidents: (a) involved a vehicle roll-over; (b) resulted in death; (c) involved another vehicle.

(3) In each case: (a) what investigation was carried out into the cause of the accident; (b) did the vehicle have rear air suspension; and (c) what was the outcome of each investigation.

3700  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Since January 1998, how many accidents involving road trains have occurred in Western Australia.

(2) How many of the above accidents: (a) involved a vehicle roll-over; (b) resulted in death; (c) involved another vehicle.

(3) In each case: (a) what investigation was carried out into the cause of the accident; (b) did the vehicle have rear air suspension; and (c) what was the outcome of each investigation.

3701  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that a letter (reference K98/1492—K98/1751) contained in documents (file reference K99—92—0007) relating to an investigation into heavy vehicles undertaken by Roaduser International, and tabled in response to an order for the production of documents by the Senate, was not the only written communication from Louise and John Bauer.

(2) If all written communications from Mrs and Mr Bauer were contained in the documents tabled on 27 November 2000 in response to the order, can the Minister provide specific reference numbers for the additional documents.

(3) If all written communications from Mrs and Mr Bauer were not contained in the tabled documents: (a) why were they deleted; and (b) can copies of all these documents be provided.

3702  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that an inspection of a heavy vehicle, a Mack CH Fleetliner (F4), took place on 24 March 1999 as part of an investigation into problems associated with heavy vehicles (reference K99—92—0008 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Was the inspection undertaken by Mr Warren Duncan.

(3) Did Mr Duncan discover serious safety problems with that vehicle.

(4) Did Mr Duncan make a number of recommendations following his inspection of the above vehicle; if so: (a) what were those recommendations; and (b) who was responsible for implementing those recommendations.

(5) Is the Minister, his office or the department aware that the significant safety problems discovered with the above vehicle have still not been corrected and the vehicle continues to operate on public roads; if so, when was the Minister, his office or the department made aware that this vehicle was still operating on public roads despite significant safety problems.

(6) (a) What action has the Minister taken to ensure the above vehicle does not pose a threat to other road users; and (b) when was that action taken.

3703  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that Mr Scott McFarlane wrote to Mr McLucas from the Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS) on 18 February 1999, advising of inspections of nine prime movers (reference K99—92—00117 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Did Mr McFarlane advise that while all vehicles exhibited problems, four vehicles: a 1997 Mack Titan (F17), a 1997 HN 80 Ford (F6), a HN 80 Ford (F13) and another Ford prime mover were, in fact, unsafe.

(3) Is the Minister aware of a fax from Mr Peter Sweatman from Roaduser International to Mr Bill Ellis from the department dated 30 June 1999, concerning a draft report from the Driver Education Centre of Australia (DECA) relating to the above inspections (reference L99—390—38 in the documents tabled).

(4) (a) Is the Minister aware that that fax stated in part: ‘Subsequently we have confirmed with DECA that the report prepared by Lindsay Pollock is a draft only. We are now awaiting a copy of the final report which may not include the opinion comments on safety concerns to which you have referred’; and (b) is the Minister aware that Mr Ellis noted in the margin of that fax that the contents of the above paragraph were ‘amazing’.

(5) Did FORS request that it continue to be advised of any safety problems identified by DECA or Roaduser International following the fax from Mr Sweatman to Mr Ellis dated 30 June 1999; if so: (a) on how many occasions was such information provided to FORS; (b) when was the information provided; and (c) what action did FORS take following receipt of that information.

(6) Did FORS provide that information to vehicle owners or manufacturers; if so: (a) when was it provided; (b) what was the nature of the information provided; and (c) to whom was it provided.

(7) If FORS did not request that information relating to the safety of vehicles used as part of the inquiry continue to be provided, why not.

(8) Did FORS seek legal advice as to the status of the reports from Roaduser International and any comments about vehicle safety contained in those reports; if not, why not; if so: (a) when was the legal advice sought; (b) who provided the advice; (c) when was the legal advice received; (d) what did the advice relate to; and (e) what action did FORS take following receipt of that legal advice.

(9) When was the Minister or his office first advised that a number of the vehicles tested were found to be unsafe to operate.

(10) What action did the Minister or his office take in response to that advice to ensure unsafe heavy vehicles did not continue to operate on public roads.

(11) If the Minister or his office was not advised, why not.

(12) Given that these vehicles were deemed to be unsafe at that time: (a) what action was taken; and (b) who took the action to correct the problems with the vehicles or required that they be removed from public roads until they were considered to be safe to operate.

(13) Did these four vehicles referred to in document K99—92—00117 exhibit exactly the same unsafe characteristics; if not, what were the differences in the problems identified in each of the above vehicles.

(14) If those four vehicles did exhibit the same unsafe characteristics, does that suggest a design problem with those vehicles.

3704  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that a Mack Titan truck (F19) inspected as part of an investigation into problems associated with heavy vehicles exhibited similar problems to those identified in the Mack Titan prime mover (F7) (reference K99—590—00030 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) If both the above vehicles displayed similar problems, does that suggest a design problem with that vehicle type.

3705  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Is the Minister aware that Mr Michael Klug, a partner from Clayton Utz, wrote to Mr John Lambert from Roaduser International on 8 April 1999, on behalf of Mack Trucks Australia, criticising a report on the results of vehicle tests carried out in Adelaide on 25 March 1999 (reference K99—590—00098 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Is the Minister aware that the letter states in part: ‘We find it astounding that Mack Trucks Australia has not been afforded the opportunity to drive and/or test this vehicle or indeed any of the vehicles that you have been testing’.

(3) Can the Minister confirm that on three separate occasions prior to vehicle F4 being involved in the heavy vehicle investigation, Mack Trucks Australia was given the opportunity to test drive vehicle F4 but refused.

(4) Can the Minister also confirm that Mack Trucks Australia was also given a number of opportunities to test drive vehicle F26 but refused those offers.

(5) If the Minister cannot confirm that Mack Trucks Australia was invited to test both of the above vehicles, will he seek advice from Mack Trucks Australia as to whether such offers were made and the basis for the company’s refusal to test drive the trucks.

3706  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that Mack Trucks Australia were given the opportunity to attend a Mack instrumentation test drive in Melbourne on 17 May 1999 (reference K99—804—143 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Was the attendance of the company at the tests a result of a request by Mack Trucks Australia, an offer by the Minister or his office, an offer by the department, or an offer by the Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS).

(3) If the attendance of the company at the tests was the result of an offer from the Minister, his office or the department: (a) when was the offer made; (b) what was the reason for the offer; and (c) who approved the offer.

(4) If the attendance of the company at the tests was the result of an request to the Minister or his office, the department or FORS, by the company: (a) who was the request made to; (b) when was the request made; (c) what was the reason for the request; (d) who made the decision to agree to the request; and (e) did the Minister or his office approve the decision to agree to the request.

3707  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that the owners of vehicle F4 inspected as part of an investigation into problems associated with heavy vehicles by Roaduser International were denied the opportunity to be present when the vehicle was being tested in May 1999.

(2) Was the attendance of the vehicle owners at the tests refused as a result of a decision by the Minister, his office, the department or by the Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS).

(3) If the attendance of the owners of the vehicle was denied as a result of a decision by the Minister, his office, the department or FORS: (a) when was the decision made; and (b) what was the reason for the decision.

3708  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Did an engineer acting on behalf of Mrs and Mr Bauer request, on 26 May 1999, access to the Mack trucks F4 and F26, owned by the Bauers, at the Driver Trainer Education Centre of Australia in Melbourne, to facilitate a superficial inspection (reference K99—804—221 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Was the request refused; if so: (a) who refused the request; (b) what was the basis for the refusal; and (c) was the Minister or his office aware of the request and did the Minister or his office approve the decision to refuse the request.

3709  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Did the Federal Office of Road Safety invite Mack Trucks Australia, Ford/Stirling and Kenworth Australia to attend a technical briefing in Melbourne on 10 June 1999, conducted by Roaduser International relating to its inquiry into heavy vehicles (reference K99—804—268 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Were any of the owners of vehicles that were the subject of testing by Roaduser International or independent engineers representing those owners invited to attend the briefing; if not, why not.

(3) (a) Who made the decision not to invite the vehicle owners or their technical advisers; (b) was the Minister or his office advised of the decision; and (c) did the Minister or his office endorse the decision.

3710  Senator O’Brien: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—

(1) Can the Minister confirm that there were three permits to operate unlicensed vehicles obtained to test vehicles F4 and F1 as part of the inquiry into heavy vehicles conducted by Roaduser International (reference K99—917—24 in documents tabled in the Senate on 27 November 2000).

(2) Was vehicle F4 tested on two occasions.

(3) (a) Why was vehicle F4 tested on two occasions; and (b) was raw data collected and stored on a CD Rom on both occasions.

(4) Can the Minister confirm that only one CD Rom was provided to the owners of vehicle F4; if so: (a) why was the second CD Rom withheld from the vehicle owners; and (b) does the Minister plan to provide the second CD Rom to the owners of vehicle F4 at some future time.