My matter is for the Minister for Roads.
It is actually substantially about a matter that pre-dates his time in the Roads portfolio. Nevertheless, I feel sure that he and his staff and/or Department will very easily be able to provide me with the relevant information about it.
Specifically, it’s about a 2014 Labor Party pre-election commitment in relation to road user education. In the lead-up to that election, the ALP announced that it would introduce a compulsory driver education program for Year 10 students if it won government. It was estimated that this new program would cost $24 million over the four years to 2018, as part of a broader $146 million road safety package for young Victorians.
I certainly agree with the principles behind that policy – and, in my time as an MP, the importance of driver education is something that has only been consolidated in my mind.
Indeed, I have received a lot of feedback from (and participated in many discussions with) constituents and various experts about road safety issues. Not least among them the brilliant Driver Education Centre of Australia (or DECA, for short) in my electorate.
These conversations have spanned many issues, including the condition of Northern Victorian roads; the alarming, ongoing increases in the incidence of drug driving; and various matters relating to the testing and penalties for those and other offences on our roads. These conversations have also often centred on the general skills of Victorian drivers – or, in many cases, the lack of them.
Naturally, I realise this is a regular experience for other MLCs, too – as was reflected, for instance, in last year’s moving debate on the Bill to immediately suspend the licences of drivers charged with serious offences like hit-and-run and excessive speeding.
The action I seek is an outline of the Andrews Government’s record on defensive driver education and funding, including specifically in relation to the implementation and outcomes of the 2014 election commitment to which I referred at the start of this matter.
On that election commitment, I must admit that I am finding it very difficult to trace exactly what happened in relation to its delivery, let alone its results.
I should add that I know a number of students who were in Year 10 in Northern Victoria between 2014 and 2018, and who say they do not recall undertaking a compulsory driver education program.
I would therefore appreciate any light the Minister might be able to shed on these issues for me.