Page 1284 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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There is a broader problem that in Australia we have not aligned our vehicle standards with the latest standards and technologies in vehicle safety. The ACT government has been advocating nationally for improved emissions standards for new vehicles for several years at the Infrastructure and Transport Ministers’ Meetings and other national forums, including the recent joint parliamentary committee in the Australian parliament, in their inquiry on road safety.

We know that vehicles which comply with the latest emissions standards are also those that incorporate a range of modern safety features, and we are concerned that the federal government’s refusal to implement to improved emissions standards for new vehicles, including heavy vehicles, means that we are not getting the newest and safest vehicle technology sold into the Australian market. New vehicles are safe vehicles but we are not getting the newest vehicle technology.

Currently, in Australia we only have a requirement for Euro 5 standards, including for heavy vehicles. We have no carbon dioxide emissions standards, despite these standards covering 80 per cent of the car market across the world. The commonwealth government had undertaken a regulatory impact statement on the adoption of Euro 6 standards and made the point that not adopting the Euro 6 standards may see vehicle makers withdrawing vehicle models and variants from the Australian market rather than adding new safety connected or autonomous systems onto older technology platforms like Euro 5 platforms. (Extension of time granted.)

There are real implications for safety when we do not implement standards, and that goes to emissions standards, not just specific safety requirements in vehicles. We will continue to advocate that the commonwealth must align Australia with the latest standards and technologies in vehicle safety and emissions standards. The commonwealth should work towards adopting the latest UNECE safety and emissions regulations into the Australian design rules as quickly as possible and align implementation dates with those of Europe wherever possible. This will prevent Australia from becoming a dumping ground for older, less safe and more polluting vehicles, including heavy vehicles.

In addition to Coroner Walker’s specific recommendations regarding vehicle and driver safety, there is a third element that was not a focus of the coronial inquest but which is a critical part of the safe systems approach, and that is the road environment itself. The government has begun work to upgrade the Monaro Highway at key points right through Hume, including the intersection at Mugga Lane where this tragic accident occurred.

Planning is well underway to grade separate intersections along this section of the Monaro Highway to remove conflict points between vehicles. As part of this work, dangerous at-grade signalised intersections and free right turns across the Monaro Highway will be removed at Lanyon Drive, Tralee Street, and Mugga Lane. These will be replaced with flyovers at Lanyon Drive, Mugga Lane to Tralee Street and at Isabella Drive, with new grade-separated interchanges. These enhancements will completely change how traffic moves through this area, making travel far safer for light and heavy vehicles.

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