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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 56

Mr WAKELIN (4:01 PM) —I too express my appreciation to the member for McPherson for her persistence and commitment to this very important matter of national driver education. It is tragic and almost unbelievable in this era that, although we do not accept it, we almost accept the inevitability of the loss of life on our roads—particularly the lives of our young people. This weekend in my electorate, we had evidence of that with the deaths of three young people who were hit by a train. These issues are regularly on our minds. For those parents, relatives and friends of people who have lost their lives, it cuts even deeper—and few of us would not have been touched by that.

This is a very important national issue. The aim of research is to reduce the death toll by 50 per cent over the next 15 years or so. The experts tell us that the majority of the reduction can come from car and highway design—I think it is around 80 per cent or probably even higher, at 90 per cent—but there is very little emphasis on driver behaviour. That strikes me as being absolutely remarkable. As someone who travels about 100,000 kilometres per year around the electorate of Grey—and I think you are getting used to me, Deputy Speaker Jenkins, in my brushes with the law—and collects more demerit points than one really should, I am very aware of the difficulty that our police have in bringing forward the ethic of safety when we are paying money out for a breach of a technicality with no particular safety issue involved. I understand the debate about speed et cetera, but in general terms I do not see a culture of safety being developed around the issue of speeding and speeding fines. I see a culture of revenue collection, and that is what many of our people believe. That these state or federal jurisdictional issues exist is irrelevant when you look at the tragedies that we confront on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.

It is not trite or overly emotional to say that these people are not just statistics, because of course they are not. I think we need a radical cultural change. Education is more than just the physical movement of hopping into a motor car and driving it. It is important to technically understand all of that, but equally important, if not more important, is to realise that a car is a killer—a motor vehicle is a killer; understand and respect that—and that, with the best will in the world, things will go wrong. In conclusion, if, in our approach to roads, we applied the same culture as we do to aviation, I think we would see quite a different outcome. It is totally sensible to do so.