Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3409 ..
are among the most dangerous drivers on our roads. Would it be appropriate then to impose curfews or passenger restrictions upon the elderly or the middle-aged? I certainly do not think so. So why is it appropriate to unfairly punish provisional drivers?
I would like to reiterate that I have no doubt that we all agree that one fatality on our roads is too many and every death on our roads is a tragedy. But the proposed changes to learner licensing will go a long way to improving driver safety, without unfairly punishing young Canberrans and restricting the freedoms of provisional drivers.
I call on the minister to heed the advice of his Labor colleagues and rule out these two unfair restrictions which would hurt Canberrans and unfairly penalise the majority of young people who do the right thing. I hope that the Labor members who have rightly called out these proposals will continue to stand up for young people and support my motion today.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (11.54): I appreciate the opportunity to talk about road safety today, particularly the safety of young drivers. Sadly and tragically, young drivers are significantly over-represented in road crash statistics in serious injuries and fatalities caused by road crashes. But it is great to have the opportunity to talk about it today. That is the very point of having a consultation process—it enables someone like Miss C Burch to put her views very publicly on this matter. That is why we started with a discussion paper.
In adopting the national standards that have been recommended to all Australian governments we wanted to canvass the Canberra community’s views. I am conscious they are a significant change and we wanted to test how the community felt about this. Miss C Burch, Mr Steel, and various others have had that tremendous opportunity to give their feedback.
Before I talk in more detail about the proposals the government has put forward and particularly about the evidence that supports these proposals, I want to talk about some broader road safety context, especially the way we perceive and talk about road safety and the consequences of road trauma. In particular, I want to note the comment in Miss C Burch’s motion that says “only” two per cent of crashes and 20 per cent of fatal crashes occurred between the hours of midnight and 5 am in 2016. That claim requires some further context; it is quite selective, and I will talk about that in a moment.
More importantly, that language, especially the word “only”, is language we should never use when talking about people’s lives. This is a widespread problem. People are somehow able to disassociate road safety statistics from people’s real lives. Some people internalise and accept that driving means that people will die or be injured and that this is acceptable. It is reflected in some of the feedback we received during the consultation. People said things like, “Why are we changing this law when there are only a few deaths a year?”