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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12886

Mr CIOBO (Moncrieff) (19:10): I rise in this adjournment debate to discuss an issue that is causing growing frustration in the community, and that is road rules and, in particular, various state governments' focus on the use of mobile phones. Most recently, we saw in the media today that the New South Wales government—I am embarrassed to say, a Liberal government—has taken the decision to outlaw even holding your mobile phone in a vehicle. I understand road safety advocates' view that each and every life is precious, and that is absolute gospel. That is certainly the case, and we all hate to see any situation whereby, through negligence or recklessness, people lose their lives on the road. But the sad reality is that people do. Accidents do occur and, as long as people are involved in guiding vehicles, this will always be the case. But there has to be a trade-off at some point on that spectrum between the risk that we deem acceptable in order to allow society to progress, for people to have rapid transit et cetera, and the desire to curb that risk to make it a safer form of travel.

As I said, the laws that have been proposed by the New South Wales government will actually outlaw even holding a mobile phone. I think enough is enough. It has reached the stage where it is ridiculous, when people cannot even hold a mobile phone. What is the logical next step? Will it become illegal to put the window down? Will it become illegal to turn the radio on? Will it be illegal to have a drink of water whilst you are driving? These must certainly be the logical next steps if you are going to outlaw someone even holding a mobile phone.

The reality is that these constant infringements on people's liberties have reached such proportions that the general populace is now pushing back. We know this because there was a study done by the TAC in Victoria which was leaked by 3AW which found that the vast majority of people have had a gutful. The vast majority of people no longer take any notice of the various road laws out there and take no notice of the various shock advertisements that are put out there. In addition, they are tired of the constant propaganda that governments use. I call it propaganda because I believe that is what it is.

The single biggest killer on our roads, after alcohol and drugs, is road conditions, yet we fail to see any money being spent by the various state governments advertising dangerous roads. We do not see advertisements from state governments saying, 'Be careful of this poorly maintained road,' or, 'On this particular section of road, we haven't done our job, therefore you should travel more slowly.' You never see that, even though road conditions are the second leading cause of fatalities on our roads, after drugs and alcohol. And the reason for that is that there is no revenue in it. It is a cost centre. If I bell the cat tonight, well, so be it, because I know from speaking to people that they are sick and tired of the constant revenue grab by state governments when it comes to road rules.

I am happy to put on the record that in the last five years, to the best of my knowledge, I have had two speeding tickets. I am sure there are plenty of others in the chamber who have had tickets. But—shock, horror—I have had two speeding tickets. Those two speeding tickets were as a result of a fixed speed camera on the M1 between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, a road that is travelled by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every single day. It just so happens that the speed camera that caught me out did so about two kilometres out of the end of a 110 zone, where the speed limit goes back to 100. Like many people, I put on cruise control; I drive with the traffic. Lo and behold, you pass through a fixed speed camera and, boom, it takes a photograph. Is it really about road safety or is it actually about revenue raising?

I say it is time that, across the various state jurisdictions, we re-evaluate the approach to road safety and doing what we can. I have a theory, and it is this: for as long as these ridiculous laws keep going further and further, and for as long as the general public keep growing tired of these laws and start making their own decisions to no longer obey them, the reality is that they will also grow more susceptible to disobeying the really important laws. The logical consequence of people's picking and choosing which laws they think need to be upheld and which do not because the laws are so pervasive will simply lead to a decrease in their general level of respect for the really important ones that do make a difference, and we are seeing that increasingly across the community.