Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee; Reference
I, and also on behalf of Senator Hinch, move:
That the following matter be referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 20 September 2018:
The need for regulation of mobility scooters, also known as motorised wheelchairs, including:
(a) the number of deaths and injuries attributed to accidents involving mobility scooters in Australia since their introduction;
(b) the causes of these accidents;
(c) any current regulations governing the use of mobility scooters throughout Australia;
(d) comparison of Australian regulations with international standards;
(e) what support structures are in place to ensure the safe operation of mobility scooters;
(f) the regulatory role of government and non-government bodies; and
(g) any related matter.
I seek leave to make a brief statement.
From 2000 to 2010, Monash University has kept statistics on the number of accidents involving mobility scooters, commonly known as gophers. In Australia, 62 people were killed and 442 people were hospitalised in those 10 years. Of course, it was very public when my wife got hit by one. She is very good, and I'm pleased about that. Mrs Nicholson from Ballina contacted us. She was walking down the street in Ballina and got hit from behind by a mobility scooter. She had multiple fractures to both legs, spent four months in hospital and has never recovered properly. That is only one incident; there have been many more. They're an essential item for the elderly and frail. I have no desire to ban them, but I think we need to have a good look at this and see what we can do to make it safer for all Australians in the future.
On the ABC this afternoon I was asked about this. I was asked, 'Are you here to vilify old people?' I said, 'Not at all. I wear a knee brace and may need one of these things at some stage.' The reason that I am co-sponsoring this motion is that the mother of one of my staff ended up in hospital with bad hip injuries because her partner—inadvertently, I hasten to add—ran her over in one of these motorised scooters. He was in his 80s, legally blind and still driving it. The weight and speed of these things should be checked out. They need to be made safer not only for partners but also for the people riding them.
Question agreed to.