Government needs to mandate new truck safety measures
Posted March 21, 2014
Hansard copy of Road Safety speech, March 20, 2014
I rise to call on the government to introduce national regulation to mandate the use of electronic stability control, ESC, systems on dangerous goods tankers throughout the country.
It might seem ironic to some in this chamber that I am calling for more regulation during a week of mass regulation
repeal. However, I believe that the only way to get nationwide use of life-saving ESC systems is for the federal
government to act on this issue.
The government of New South Wales has acted independently. It has made it mandatory for all dangerous goods
tankers to be fitted with ESC by 2019. This will also include any tankers passing through New South Wales. I
am pleased to say that this will force many vehicles registered in other states to install these systems as well.
The New South Wales government took this action in response to the Mona Vale fuel tanker explosion in October
2013. I commend the O'Farrell government for taking this step and call on the federal government to create
similar national regulation. Our roads need to be safe.
Everyone across Australia relies on our network of highways and major roads. This is particularly the case in
Indi. We use highways to get to work, to go to school, to access services, to respond quickly and efficiently to
emergencies and to take our goods to markets. Our roads need to be safe.
Indi also has many famous tourist attractions, so tourists come from all over the country and the world to explore our mountains and our waterways and enjoy our food and wine. They use highways to get to Indi and travel around Indi. We need these highways to be safe.
One important and relatively easy step that the Commonwealth government can take to make our roads
safer is to regulate the use of ESC systems on our trucks. In 2013, 13 per cent of all road accidents in Australia
involved a truck, and these accidents resulted in 167 sad deaths.
One such accident was described to me and my staff by my constituents Jack and Jenny Murray. Jack and Jenny
first visited my office in Wangaratta on Wednesday, 18 February to discuss this issue. They told me the sad
story of how, in December 2009, they lost a daughter, a son-in-law and two grandchildren when a fuel tanker
struck their car on the Princes Highway. The family was travelling from Wangaratta in my electorate to drive
back to their homes at Ulladulla, on the New South Wales coast. The tanker, owned by Cootes Transport, had
taken a bend too fast and swerved into them at between 80 and 90 kilometres per hour.
ABC Radio National reported that, after striking two other cars and injuring their occupants, the tanker rolled into the family's car, which exploded, killing the Murrays' grandchildren, 13-year-old Jordan and 11-year-old Makeely, in the back
seat. The Murrays' daughter, Debbie, and her husband, David Bridge, both suffered burns to 80 per cent of their
bodies. David died five days later and Debbie, sadly, died two years later. The other victim of this tragic accident
was the driver, David Carolan, who died at the scene of the crash.
The recent media surrounding this issue has highlighted the risks that truckies are forced to take as they move
our goods around the country. The trucking industry, like all industries, works hard to make their businesses
financially viable. However, as recent media reports have exposed, cost savings have been made at the expense
of the safety of our truckies. Trucking is hard work, and we owe it to our truckies to take advantage of technology
such as ESC and ABS to make their job safer.
My constituents, Jack and Jenny Murray, have been lobbying hard to get national reform to retrofit tankers with
ESC. They inform me that ESC, which is also preferred by the Australian Trucking Association, costs about
$5,000 to $10,000 per truck to retrofit.
While there is no doubt that this represents a significant up-front cost for trucking businesses, a single crash of a tanker carrying dangerous goods can cost up to half a million dollars, not to mention the immeasurable cost in lives lost.
My constituents want their roads to be safer and to ensure that dangerous goods are delivered without disaster.
I call on the government to take note of regulation in New South Wales and to implement national regulations
mandating the use of ESC on all dangerous goods tankers in Australia. In doing this, we will greatly decrease the chances that families will be subjected to the suffering and loss that the Murrays have faced over the past four years.
I support the motion.