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Monday, 15 October 1973
Page: 2089

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - The report by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety is in effect an interim report. A report was previously produced when the Liberal-Country Party Government was in power. It was thought that a progress report should be submitted. Before dealing with some of the contents of the report I should like to pay tribute to the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), whose profound interest in road safety was well known before he actually took over as Chairman of the Committee. I am sure that the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) would agree with me that the Chairman is a man of great enthusiasm. I could not let this occasion pass without referring to Mr Ray Beggs, Mr Ian Booth and the people who worked behind the scenes. My goodness, what a dedicated person and enthusiast Ray Beggs has been. He has kept all members of the Committee moving. The Committee has had a multitude of sittings - many more than any other committee of which I have been a member. It travelled all over Australia and conferred with people from all walks of life, including .people of very great authority. Some of the witnesses who appeared before the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety are regarded as international authorities. They are people who have attended overseas conferences and sapped the brains of the world. They have been able to inform the Committee of some of the most advanced ideas concerning road safety.

We heard evidence from many witnesses - I would not like to say how many - and I think all members of the Committee were impressed by the staggering figures which indicated that over a 10 year period from 1963-1972 no less than 32,830 people were killed on the roads in Australia alone. If that is not carnage of the worst possible nature, I do not know what is. Over the same period 821,149 injuries were sustained. One of the things which affected most members of the Committee was the consistent pattern which emerged throughout the whole accumulation of evidence. There were cerain factors which were consistent all over the world and which were affecting road safety. The one that was most spoken of - I suppose I can safely say it was the one in respect of which there was the least suggestion as to a solution - was what we have learnt to call drink-driving. As the Committee sat we began to get used to the term 'drink-driving' rather than drunken driving'. It is interesting to note that most of the witnesses agreed quite readily that they themselves drank to a very great extent. They were not wowsers. They were not people with an attitude against drink generally. They contributed a pattern of evidence which showed that the accident rate was due primarily to drink-driving.

As I mentioned earlier, some interesting suggestions came forward. However, no substantial stand was taken which said that suchandsuch should be done to meet the evergrowing difficulty of drink-driving. There was conflict of opinion as to whether spot tests should be taken with the breathalyser and whether this would encroach on civil liberties. What is more important, civil liberties or 32,830 people over a period of 10 years being killed on the roads? We know full well that this rate will not only keep up but also will accelerate.! The suggestion came forward, profoundly and with great courage, that something had to be done about the drinkdriving problem but that civil liberties should not be encroached upon by having spot tests with the breathalyser.

It was admitted quite freely, and acknowledged, that the day of the little suburban pub was just about over. At one time as the sun was setting a person could wander off with a few of his mates to the pub - or meet them at the pub - and walk home again. That cannot 'be done now. Today there are great hotel complexes with swimming pools and all the rest of it. What interested the members of the Committee was that considerable space was allocated for the parking of cars. If one drives a car to the hotel to enjoy some conviviality - I would be the last in the world to object to that - honourable members will no doubt agree that one has to drive the car home again and that the driver may not be in quite the same condition. So, a suggestion was put forward - my goodness, who would put this into effect - that parking areas be done away with. This is a matter that could be given consideration.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

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