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ADJOURNMENT: Car safety ratings

Jun 6, 2019 | Parliament

Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (17:19): The matter I raise tonight is to Minister Jaala Pulford, Minister for Roads. The action I seek is that the minister work with her federal counterparts to bring about a ban on the import of 1 and 2-star safety rated vehicles into Australia.

I wish to thank the minister for the invitation to attend the road safety summit held here in Melbourne last week. This was an interesting forum with presentations from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), a Vision Zero expert from Sweden, Regional Roads Victoria and a panel discussion that included police and road safety researchers.

I do not need to repeat the terrible statistics for Minister Pulford; she gets an update on these every morning and she knows them well. But I remind the rest of us that 140 lives have been lost on the roads this year, a 60 per cent increase on this time last year, and 37 of these deaths were in rural Victoria. That is a heartbreaking 80 per cent increase in lives lost on our country roads.

It was reassuring to hear that our experts had many good answers to the problem of how to reduce lives lost and serious injury on the roads.

They know that speed is a huge problem and that Victorians must learn or re-learn to drive within the conditions.

They know we do not have the infrastructure or capacity to bring every road to the highest safety standards.

Reducing speed limits on inferior roads will be the answer.

However, the experts also know many of the solutions will not be popular, but then we did not like having to wear seatbelts when that law was introduced. Now that simple act is second nature and we know it saves lives.

The public did not like speed cameras or alcohol and drug testing, but again we know that these measures save lives.

New technology to detect the use of phones in cars shows promise for stopping the increasing problem of distracted driving. I commend the TAC on its new campaign—we are indeed driving blind when we glance at our phone for just 2 seconds.

But what struck me as an obvious and potentially achievable measure to reduce injury and lives lost on our roads was a total ban on the import of vehicles with a safety rating less than 3 stars; 2 and 3-star rated cars are not safe.

At the summit Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane spoke of the frustration of pulling young people with serious brain injuries out of 1 and 2-star rated vehicles after accidents.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics census of Australian motor vehicles at the end of January 2018 showed the average age of the Australian fleet was 10 years.

Let us get the old fleet to retire naturally and work to bring in a ban on imported cars that are not safe.

So I ask the minister: can she work with her federal counterparts to investigate legislation that bans the import of 1 and 2-star vehicles into Australia and investigate incentives to move Victorians into safer vehicles?

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