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Thursday, 1 August 2019
Page: 1772


Ms CATHERINE KING (Ballarat) (10:17): The opposition supports the establishment of this committee but, to be quite frank, it would be better for the government to get on with responding to the inquiry which it commissioned two years ago. In September 2017, the government appointed a panel of road safety experts to conduct an inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy, which was clearly failing to make a material difference in our road toll. The report was handed to the Deputy Prime Minister in September last year. Ten months later, the government has yet to respond to that inquiry.

In March this year the two co-chairs, eminent Australians in this field—Dr John Crozier, a leading trauma surgeon at Liverpool Hospital, and Associate Professor Jeremy Woolley, Director of the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide—publicly released a video saying that they were underwhelmed by the government's lack of response to the inquiry's findings. Here we are, with another four months having gone by, and the government's response is to set up this committee. There's still no formal response to the inquiry already completed.

This committee will hear from some of the same people who made submissions to the government's previous inquiry. Nothing has changed other than more lives being lost while the government, frankly, has done very little. We've seen today that the Australian Automobile Association has released a report that shows the road toll is now higher than it was four years ago. One thousand, two hundred and fourteen Australians have died on our roads in the 12 months to 30 June 2019 compared to the 1,170 in the 12 months to June 2015.

Of the 33 individual indicators of the National Road Safety Strategy, which has been in place since 2011, only nine are on track to being met over the strategy's 10-year time frame. It is eight years into a 10-year strategy and the government still cannot measure eight of the indicators, including one of the strategy's two headline targets: reduction of serious injuries by 30 per cent. So, yes, the opposition believes that it is critical for all of us to work together to bring down Australia's road toll and that one death or injury is one too many. But the government needs to get on with actually responding to the work already done in this space.

The committee that we're debating here today will not report until July next year. I know that transport infrastructure ministers are meeting on Friday. I would hope that a proper and formal response to the inquiry that the government undertook and action to improve the road toll are a matter of urgency for those ministers, particularly the Commonwealth ministers. Our view is, whilst we support the committee and support many backbenchers being involved in the work of the committee, we do say that the government does need to get on with the job. We simply cannot wait until the committee reports in July next year to actually start taking real action on road safety.

Question agreed to.