Mr CHESTER (Gippsland—Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC and Deputy Leader of the House) (10:03): Just a few moments ago in this place the inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy was launched. I want to congratulate Professor Jeremy Woolley and Dr John Crozier for the work that they’ve done on behalf of the government to look at the National Road Safety Strategy and to establish what steps they believe the government needs to take to reduce the impact of road trauma on our nation. The target obviously is zero deaths and zero injuries on our roads. When I met with colleagues in my previous role as the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport I was touched by the number of colleagues who have had direct experience of road trauma—in their own families, amongst their own friends and in their own electorates.
I simply don’t accept that 1,200 Australians have to die on our roads each and every year—that 100 people have to die every month on Australian roads. There are those of us who live in rural and regional communities, like you, Mr Deputy Speaker Hogan. A disproportionate number of those people who are killed or injured on our roads are from our regional communities. Less than one-third of all Australians live in regional areas, but they make up more than two-thirds of our road trauma statistics.
I think it’s a very important report that was received today by Deputy Prime Minister McCormack. It is also very important that the shadow minister, Anthony Albanese, was there for the launch and that the co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Road Safety were there as well. The Parliamentary Friends of Road Safety is an organisation I helped establish with Senator Alex Gallacher in the other place, who is a man who has a deep conviction and a passion for reducing road trauma in our community.
One of the keys to the inquiry’s reports relates to the need for a national approach to road safety. While we have at the moment quite a disjointed system where each of the state jurisdictions has primary responsibility for road safety, I believe that there is capacity for the federal government to play more of a coordinating role and to bring the states together. The reason I say that is that there can’t be more than one best practice in Australia. Each of the states thinks they are doing best practice, but they’re all quite different in the way they approach the issue. Take, for example, the approach to learner drivers and the number of hours they need to achieve before they can apply for a probation licence—it varies across jurisdictions. We have road laws that vary across state jurisdictions. Some states are prepared to implement point-to-point cameras to detect speeding drivers and others are not prepared to do that for light-vehicle operators.
I encourage the states to work in a collegiate and collaborative manner with the federal government. I’d encourage the Deputy Prime Minister to look closely at the report, which I know he intends to do, and encourage those opposite, particularly the shadow minister, to work in a constructive way with the government—as they always have done—in relation to road safety matters. It’s an important report. It’s one that I sincerely want to thank Jeremy Woolley and John Crozier for undertaking on behalf of the Australian people. I look forward to working with the Deputy Prime Minister as we achieve our target of zero deaths and trauma related to road safety.I encourage the states to work in a collegiate and collaborative manner with the federal government. I’d encourage the Dep