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Thursday, 30 August 2001
Page: 30713


Mrs DE-ANNE KELLY (9:49 AM) —I rise to speak on the matter of seatbelts on school buses. I would like to thank the member for Forde who raised this important issue in her recent motion in the House. In my own electorate of Dawson every school has a large proportion of its students who travel by bus, mostly from rural areas. The safety of these children and many others is paramount. Parents in my area should not need to worry about their children's safety in getting to and from school to the extent that they currently do. I recognise the concern that bus operators have in regard to the cost involved in fitting seatbelts to existing school buses. In some cases fitting existing school buses with seatbelts would be arduous and perhaps in many cases technically impossible. The member for Forde's motion called on all states and territories to ensure that all new school buses be fitted with seatbelts. I do not have to remind the House that this is entirely the responsibility of the state and territory governments and their respective transport departments.

One of the key policies of the Queensland National Party at the last state election was a comprehensive policy on school bus safety. Following the election, Premier Peter Beattie made some positive noises after several school bus accidents throughout the state. Parents in my electorate have been waiting for some positive action to follow, but to date Mr Beattie clearly has his foot on the brake. My advice to Mr Beattie is to go to the National Party web site at www.npa.org.au and download the Queensland National Party policy. Implementation of this policy will provide infinitely more safety for our children than they enjoy now. I urge Mr Beattie to get on with the job of protecting our schoolchildren.

I would like to share with the House some aspects of the motion that the member for Forde moved in the House recently. She called for the following:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges that the safety of our children should be a paramount concern for all Governments;

(2) recognises current safety standards imposed on coaches and long-distance buses include the mandatory requirement that these vehicles be fitted with seat belts;

... ... ...

(5) calls on all State and Territory Governments across the nation to put safety first and move urgently to at least require all new and replacement school buses be fitted with seat belts so this safety issue is eventually and finally addressed.

I congratulate the member for Forde for raising this very important issue. I am pleased to support her wholeheartedly in the House today. It seems extraordinary to me that, while it is a requirement that conventional buses in many cases are now being fitted with seatbelts, children—our future young leaders—are crowded on buses, with many of them standing in the aisles, without the benefit and safety of seatbelts. I am happy to support the member for Forde and I look forward to the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, finally acting. (Time expired)