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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2585

Mr Morris asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:

What action has been taken to implement the recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety in order to-

(a)   ensure that the Northern Territory immediately legislates for retrofitting of seat belts based on the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance draft code of practice;

(b)   initiate a program to notify all pre- 1974 motor vehicle owners, at the time of registration renewal, of the inherent dangers associated with the incorrect wearing and fitting of seat belts; were circulated:

(c)   investigate the practicality and feasibility of incorporating an outside device on vehicles to indicate whether seat belts are being worn;

(d)   ensure that vehicles are fitted with a 'fasten seat belts' warning light on the dashboard operated in conjunction with the ignition switch; and . (e) investigate the present reasons for granting exemptions from seat belt wearing and encourage Territory authorities to amend their legislation according to the result of the investigation.

Mr Adermann - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The question from the honourable member is taken to refer only to the action that has been taken in the Northern Territory on these matters. The simple answer to that question is that these matters are all under active consideration. I will however add further comment on each of the points raised.

(a   ) Paragraphs 439 to 444 of the Report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety indicates that only the states of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia have enacted legisation relating to the retrofitting of seat belts. In fact the Report states that 'no State has adopted the ' code in its recommended form'- the 'code' being the draft code of practice prepared by the ACVP and referred to by the honourable member.

Although no action has been taken to amend Territory legislation along these lines, my Department in Darwin is currently investigating the magnitude of the task and the likely cost to the community.

(b)   The Report recommends that the Federal Department of Transport, in conjunction with the State and Territory registration authorities initiate such a program of advice to Vehicle Owners. I expect that my colleague the Minister for Transport, will be contacting me in this regard at some time.

(c)   I would expect that the recommendation for the installation of such a device would be referred to the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance in the first instance before any State or Territory considers its adoption.

(d)   The Standing Committee in fact recommended that an Australian Design Rule be developed to ensure that vehicles are fitted with the seat belts warning light. This being the case my Department will not take any action along these lines until such a Design Rule is introduced. It would neither be prudent nor advisable for the Northern Territory to act unilaterally in this matter.

(e)   Northern Territory legisation makes provision for exemptions from the wearing of seat belts in certain circumstances. Administrative practice requires a person seeking exemption to produce medical evidence (a doctor's certificate) to substantiate a claim for exemption on medical or physical grounds. Exemption may also be granted to drivers of delivery vehicles under strict conditions. I understand that these exemptions are not inconsistent with similar legislation elsewhere in Australia.

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