Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 16 April 1985
Page: 1222

Mr WRIGHT(10.50) —I rise to speak on a matter which I believe is of importance to many Australians and I relate my remarks to the question of road safety, specifically as it refers to young cyclists. I want to target my comments on the use of helmets by cyclists. It is of great regret that many young people today are not prepared to wear helmets, mainly because it is not the done thing. They see the use of such road safety measures as sissy and not the macho sort of image that one ought to have. There is also the question of cost. A recent study showed that the helmets that are available to young people can cost anywhere between $20 and $100. Some consideration has been given to their effectiveness. Some recent studies have shown that they are not worth the money. So we face a problem in that we have young people who, for a start, are not aware of the importance of protecting themselves, and we have the problem of families not being able to afford this very important safety measure. We also have the problem of manufacturers producing a product which, in itself, is of little use.

We need a nationwide campaign, first and foremost to create some awareness. It may well be that we need to draw upon the reputations of well-known cyclists and that we need to provide funds not only at a Federal level, as has been done by this Government, but at a State level to encourage our service clubs in the various electorates to undertake a program, the objective of which should be not to provide finance for helmets but, in the first instance, to change attitudes.

Recent statistics are hard to find because too often when a child on a bike is knocked down by a car that fact does not appear on statistical forms. Unless the child is seriously injured one often hears little more about it. But recently in central Queensland a young girl was killed. There have been a number of injuries in country areas. This matter does not relate just to the cities. I stress that in any one week in any year, about one million Australians are riding bikes. These people are at risk.

We need a nationwide awareness and promotion campaign. That campaign ought to involve not just government but those relevant groups within the community. We need to involve the schools, and to seek the support of law enforcement agencies, not in some Big Brother approach but on an educational line. Such a campaign has to be co-ordinated. It is not just a matter of the use of helmets, as we saw recently in Queensland, where the Road Ahead came out with an excellent article. It is a matter of bringing together the expertise available, seeking the support of media, whether it be radio, television or the newspapers, and asking them to join in the campaign that could begin here tonight.

Mr Goodluck —A good idea. We are talking about it now on the Road Safety Committee.

Mr WRIGHT —It is a beginning, but the end is a long way down the track because of the points I have made, first, about cost. I stress that the main question is one not of cost but of attitude. Whilst I welcome the point made by the honourable member, I must say that unless we, as members of parliament, can convince our own community groups, the decision-makers within our various areas, to join with us in this campaign, we will achieve little.

It was 10 years ago, I recall, that the issue was raised in Queensland and a campaign was started. I suggest that if honourable members visited schools in Queensland, let alone schools in their own electorates, they would find very few young people who are prepared, this day, to wear helmets. One per cent would be an optimistic figure.

This is a matter of major concern to me as in recent times I have seen a young person who was injured seriously-fortunately, not killed-not because of a mad motorist but simply because of a rush coming out of school without due care and attention. In the hustle and bustle that occurs between three and four o'clock of an afternoon in most towns and cities throughout the nation, a motorist unfortunately hit this cyclist. The child was injured because that child was not wearing a helmet. I urge a new approach, a new attitude. Present attitudes can be changed by a nationwide awareness campaign, a campaign that ought to start here.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.