Costa's Proposal To Extend Drivers Age

Echo 24 February 2005

Costa's Proposal To Extend Drivers Age

Roads Minister, Michael Costa, wants to lift the minimum driving age from 17 to 18 and will push for the proposal at a Roads and Traffic Authority summit planned for next month. The summit will explore raising the age young drivers are able to obtain their P's, improving the quality of the training P-platers undertake, as well as more supervised training and more skills-based training for young drivers. Increasing the amount of time young drivers spend on their P-plates will also be discussed at the summit, along with implementing further driver education initiatives within schools. People aged between 16 and 20 represented only seven per cent of all drivers, but were involved in 17 per cent of deaths. The Law Institute of Victoria is pushing for a scheme to allow 17-year-olds to hold a licence but with more stringent restrictions, including a night-time curfew and a limit of one passenger. Both restrictions were also raised in a NSW discussion paper released late last year, on which the Government is accepting public submissions until Monday. Next month's summit would also review speed limits, traffic flows and new penalties for slower drivers who insist on staying in the right-hand lanes on freeways. However, I have certainly made it quite clear that from the Driver Forum held within the Lismore Electorate that young drivers do not want any change to the age of obtaining a license, as young people in regional and rural NSW need their license for work, school and social reasons as we do not have the public transport infrastructure to provide them with other means of transport. Young people were very supportive of additional and advanced driver training courses.

Shadow Minister Visits

Last week Mr Chris Hartcher MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relation and Commerce visited the electorate. He was a guest speaker at the Casino Chamber of Commerce Workers Compensation information forum as well as meeting with local business people to discuss the draft Occupational Health and Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Fatalities) Bill 2004.

Youth Parliament

The YMCA of Sydney, who is responsible for administering this event, is currently calling on applications to take part in this year's program. It is a highly prestigious forum for students in years 9 - 12, to express and debate youth issues and in turn learn and participate in the parliamentary process. Students who are successful in their application are placed in teams based upon their electorate. They then work together to develop legislation that aims to overcome issues they face as youth in their local communities. Application packs are available from my office.

Waste Watch Website

The tally for Carr Government waste, mismanagement and cost blowouts now exceeds $5 billion. So concerned is the Opposition that it has established a waste-watch website to allow members of the public to dob-in Government departments and Carr Government bureaucrats wasting taxpayers dollars. The website has a completely anonymous reporting system which enables people to cite examples and even download documents, without being traced. Members of the public can log on to www.carrwatch.com.au and report Carr Government waste.

Ombudsman's Land Valuation Review

The NSW Ombudsman is conducting a review of how land is valued in NSW and the complaints system when people disagree with their land valuation. The Ombudsman is not looking at individual cases, only the system as a whole. For further information or to submit comments ring 1800 451524 or write to Level 24, 580 George Street, Sydney 2000.

Inquiry into Changes to Post School Programs for Young Adults with a Disability

The Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 2 is calling for submissions to its Inquiry into changes to post-school programs for young adults with a disability. Copies of the terms of reference are available from my office or at www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/gpsc2. Submissions close Friday 4 March and can be forwarded to The Director, General Purpose Standing Committee No. 2, Legislative Council, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000.

Mental Health Review

NSW Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Gladys Berejiklian has welcomed the Senate Inquiry into Mental Health. The NSW Opposition strongly supports this inquiry. For far too long the issue of Mental Health has not received the attention it deserves, especially in NSW. NSW spends only $96 dollars per annum per person in real terms on Mental Health, less than WA, VIC, SA, ACT. It is outrageous that funding to non government organisations as a percentage of Mental Health Services is only 2.4% in NSW - the second lowest of all the States and Territories and well below the national average of 5.5%. NSW has only 81 full time equivalent direct care staff employed in specialised Mental Health Services per 100,000 people. This is the worst ratio of all the mainland states. The Opposition will continue to consult with consumers, carers and health care professionals, expose the many failings of the Carr Government in relation to mental health and build policies from the ground up to take to the next election and then to implement in Government.

Dental Health Crisis

The Carr Government is putting the health of thousands of people at risk because they cannot access a dentist. The Minister's excuse is to again blame the Federal Government for the crisis in his own health system. The reality is, dental health is a state responsibility - a fact recognised by every other state in Australia, which show a greater commitment on public dentistry than NSW. New South Wales spends less per capita on public dental care than any other state and less in dollar terms than Victoria and Queensland. According to the most recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, NSW spent $78 million in 2001/02, compared to $95 million in Victoria and $111 million in Queensland. It is simply unacceptable that so many people in NSW are on a public waiting list for dental care. As the waiting list grows, shortages of public dentists are becoming more common in most areas of NSW, which the Carr Government has made little effort to fill. Oral health was significantly worse in rural or remote areas, where shortages of dentists were more acute.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577