May 15, 2015

Abbott scraps School Bus Road Safety Program

Tony Abbott must immediately reverse his foolish Budget decision to scrap a government road safety program that subsidises the fitting of seat belts in school buses serving regional areas.

Tuesday night’s Budget scrapped the Seatbelts on Regional School Buses Program, created by the former Labor Government in 2007 to improve safety for regional students who travel long distances to and from school.

The program provided funding to eligible bus operators to subsidise the cost of fitting seatbelts to new buses or retro-fitting seatbelts to existing buses.

In the six years to February 2014, it funded seat belts on 412 buses across regional Australia, significantly boosting safety for children on our regional roads.

The cut, which will take effect from July 1, came despite a promise by Mr Abbott in last year’s Budget to continue the program until 2016.

This is an absurd decision, particularly since the program cost only $1 million a year but has almost certainly saved young lives.

This fails the common sense test. It must be reversed immediately if Mr Abbott is to retain any credibility as a guardian of public safety.

As Liberal MP Sharman Stone said in a media release issued on August 28 last year: “It is important all of our children who go to school in buses are safe. Parents will now also have peace of mind knowing if something does go wrong their children will have extra measures to keep them safe.’’