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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3081

Mr PORTER (Barker) -Mr Deputy Chairman,I seek leave to make a short statement on the same matter.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order!The House, strangely enough, seems to be in some quandary today as to how to address the Chair. We have had a series of addresses to the 'Chairman' or the 'Deputy Chairman'. The term of address is 'Deputy Speaker'.

Mr PORTER -Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. As a member of the Standing Committee on Road Safety, I wish to make a few comments on this -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is seeking leave?

Mr PORTER - Yes.

Leave granted.

Mr PORTER -Thank you. I wish to make a few comments on this extremely important report The Chairman of the Committee outlined the problems. To put them in very clear terms, on average in Australia nearly 10 people a day are killed on the roads. That means that on average every 2Vi hours someone in Australia dies as the result of a road accident. This report, which is the result of a long and intensive inquiry, gathers together an enormous amount of material. The inquiry was initiated on 29 May 1978. We received 139 submissions and 133 witnesses were heard. I have no doubt at all that the report will be an enormously useful starting point for researchers and others who are involved with road safety.

I make two points. One of the results of all the evidence that was put to the Committee was that the Committee was not convinced that further increases in penalties for drink driving would be effective in the long term in overcoming the problem. Penalties vary from State to State but generally they are quite severe. The problem remains that most people believe that they have a good chance while driving under the influence of getting to their destinations and of not being stopped by the police. Generally, people's prospects of being picked up for drink driving are low. Therefore, perhaps increasing the penalties is not the answer. Perhaps increasing people's belief that they may be caught for drink driving if they are driving under the influence is the answer. This has led the Committee to the view that random breath testing, used in specific road safety campaigns, could be a useful tool in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads.

The other point I make as a result of the inquiry is that I was extremely impressed with some of the rehabilitation programs which are undertaken in some States. For example, it is not uncommon in Victoria for a magistrate to order a person who is convicted of a drink driving offence to undertake a course of lectures prior to his licence being reinstated. Such courses involve the attendance of doctors, policemen and others, who lecture the people involved. I am quite sure that many people do not understand the effect that alcohol can have on them physically in causing the destruction or breakdown of parts of their body and the effect that it has on their control of their vehicles. Drink driving is an extremely serious problem in Australia. It is my hope that this report will contribute positively to public awareness of the problems that are involved and will assist in overcoming some of the carnage on our roads.

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