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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1443

Mr FOX (Henty) - by leave - 1 am glad that the Government has seen fit to reappoint the Select Committee on Road Safety. The new Committee will continue the work which was done by a similar Committee in the last Parliament - a Committee of which it was my privilege to be Chairman. When the House went into recess at the end of last year, the work of that Committee had not been completed, although we had taken a great deal of evidence both from Australians and from overseas experts. I believe that there are few more important issues than the matter of road safety, when one considers the size of the road toll in Australia. As the Minister for

Transport (Mr Charles Jones) said, over 3,000 people are killed and 80,000 to 90,000 injured annually. Some of those who were injured probably are a great deal worse off than those who were killed. I say this because of the degree of physical and mental incapacity that many suffer as a result of road accidents. The road toll is the No. 3 killer of Australians, the others being heart disease and cancer. I am appalled that members of the public apparently are reconciled to the present road toll. They seem to regard it as inevitable. At the conclusion of each weekend they take up their newspapers, read the football results and the racing results then turn to see how many people have been killed on Australian roads. They then put the matter out of their minds until the following weekend when they look to see what the score is for that weekend.

There is no simple answer to the major causes of road accidents. There is no simple answer to what we can best do to reduce them. The losses caused by road accidents are colossal both in economic terms and in terms of human suffering, which is immeasurable. The demand for hospital beds for victims of road accidents must adversely affect the health of persons who cannot be admitted to hospital immediately for treatment which they require because of the demand on beds created by road accidents. The tragic part of the story is that a big percentage of road accidents could be avoided. If drivers were less selfish, less aggressive and less thoughtless and more responsible, more careful and more considerate of others many homes would not be mourning the loss of parents or children. What are a few minutes in the lives of motorists when because of reckless driving more than 3,000 die and 80,000 are injured every year? Such a road tol) would not be tolerated in time of war, so I do not know why we should tolerate it in time of peace.

To the extent that the re-establishment of this Road Safety Committee of this Parliament may contribute to ascertaining the causes of road accidents and to reducing both their number and the suffering caused by them it is a matter of major importance. I commend the Government for taking the action it is now taking-

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