Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3410 ..
That is exactly the opposite of what the vision zero road safety philosophy represents. It is exactly the attitude we need to combat. It is why there are specific road safety advertisements that attack the attitude by which people think that any number of road deaths is acceptable. None of them is acceptable, and we cannot use words like “only” when we talk about injuries and fatalities in the road system.
Miss C Burch said any road death is a tragedy, but she is the very one who used the word “only” when talking about fatalities on our roads. Road trauma is often covered in a similar way in the media: road crashes are seen as events. Actually, road trauma is a leading killer of people in this country. We need to change the way we talk about road trauma with language and action that reflect that road trauma is more than just numbers. These numbers are people, people who have lost their lives or sustained life-changing injuries. These are people who have family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, dreams and aspirations. The ripple effect is felt across the community every time “only” one person is killed or injured.
There tends to be a focus on fatalities. But we must never lose sight of the fact that a serious road accident can change a person’s life forever. So when we reflect on injuries we must not assume that someone got a bit bandaged up and went on with their lives. These injuries are often catastrophic and certainly life-changing. Using language like “only”, makes these people appear faceless and distant. It is easy for those who have not known anyone who has suffered through road trauma, to refer to them as “only” a number.
One of the friends of the ACT government, road safety advocate Peter Frazer, whom I have met on a number of occasions, lost his daughter in a preventable road crash. One of the ways he campaigns now is to emphasise the name of his daughter and of other people who have lost their lives to road trauma to make sure they are remembered as people. He says Sarah, his daughter, was not influential or important, but she meant the world to those who loved her.
The changes the government is considering implementing have worked in other jurisdictions in reducing the injuries and deaths of young people, and the pain and suffering of those who know and love them. If the changes save “only” one life, then those changes are worth it.
I take this opportunity to offer some clarifications. The first is that this is a consultation process. That is the very point of asking people. I know some in this community are cynical about consultation processes in the sense that they are prejudged. That is not how I operate. I have never operated like that as a minister, and I never will operate like that as a minister. I assure the Canberra community that we went out there and asked genuine questions conscious that this is an area where we are proposing significant change and on which people have strong views. We only ever need to read the letters to the editor section or listen to opportunities for people to call into talkback radio to know this excites great opinion.
I will also clarify a few issues about the so-called curfew proposal that is being discussed. Firstly, it is important to note that the ACT lags behind other jurisdictions