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Tuesday, 28 September 1971
Page: 1610

Mr Cohen asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

(1)   Has the advisory Committee on Safety in Vehicle Design yet submitted its report on fire in road accidents (Hansard, 16th March, 1971, page 957).

(2)   If so, what Commonwealth action has resulted.

(3)   If not, when does he expect the report to be submitted.

(4)   Has his attention been drawn to the report in The Sunday Australian of 12th September, 1971 outlining criticism of Volkswagen sedans and vans by Mr Ralph Nader.

(5)   If so will he initiate studies to ascertain the truth of the criticisms.

(6)   Has the Commonwealth made or does it intend to make any studies of the comparative safety of the most popular cars sold in Australia.

(7)   Would this comparative information be of value to consumers who are at present unable to determine the relative safety of different makes of vehicle.

Mr Nixon - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The Advisory Committee on Safety in Vehicle Design is examining the matter of fuel systems in motor vehicles and is taking into account the risk of fire occurring when road accidents take place. It hopes to have a report completed in time for the next meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. Commonwealth action will be taken on this matter in the light of whatever recommendations on this matter are made to the Australian Transport Advisory Council.

(4)   and (5) Yes. However, 1 have not yet received a copy of Mr Nader's report When this is obtained and studied, I shall be in a position to decide what further action needs to be taken.

(6)   No, nor does my Department have any proposals at the present time to undertake such studies.

(7)   It is doubtful whether. comparative information could be presented in a manner which could be of real value to the consumer because of the difficulties in placing a rating on particular safety features either in isolation or in combination with other features.

However, all new cars regstered in Australia are required to comply with various Australian Design Rules for motor vehicle safety and certain other legal requirements relating to safety, thus ensuring common safety standards as between different makes of new cars. The standard of safety will be progressively raised to cover additional safety features as further design rules become effective.

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