Transcript - interview - ABC Radio Hobart, Breakfast with Mel Bush

MEL BUSH, HOST: On average over 30 Tasmanians die on our roads each year. In 2023 the number was 34. The RACT say that there's not enough consolidated data and reporting on road accidents in Tasmania and a centralised Hub is required here in order for the government to make those key priority decisions on where to invest in road safety. You heard from the RACTs General Manager of advocacy, Mel Percival on the program yesterday. During that conversation, we had a message from Tasmanian Labor Senator and Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Carol Brown, who said “A centralised Hub already exists at a national level”. But again, is the data collected wholistic enough?

Senator Brown, good morning and thanks for joining us.

CAROL BROWN, MINISTER: Thanks Mel and good to be with you.

BUSH: Senator, can you tell us firstly about this current centralised National Hub that was established by the Federal Government.

BROWN: Well, at the moment as you have rightly indicated road safety data is stored by the individual states and territories, and they do that in a variety of different ways. We do receive data from States and territories already and a significant amount of data. How that data is collected and reported is vasty different from state to state. The road safety data that the Australian Government publishes monthly, available through the National Road Safety Data Hub comes from a range of sources, including crash enforcement infrastructure, and health related databases. What the federal government is doing, and we are just weeks away, from delivering the first ever national road safety data sharing agreement.

BUSH: And I wanted to touch on that too. But, I think when you're saying Senator, is the information, the reporting and the data, comes from a range of sources. I think that's been part of the issue as far as RACT are concerned that it is fragmented. It's not consistent. They've also said, that one issue with this national data collection process is that it's it's not current. They actually provided via email an example of the office of road safety's data on hospitalisations which actually dates back to 2021. There's also no data around, serious injuries that are sustained in vehicle accidents. Will gaps like that be addressed moving forward Senator?

BROWN: So, there are number of steps that we have to take and since we've been elected to Government we have done a huge amount work with States and Territories. Part of that, which is critical in terms of having harmonised data across the country is a data sharing agreement. As I was about to say it will be Australias first ever national road safety data sharing agreement and that will be finalised in the coming weeks. On top of that, we will finalise by the end of 2024 the road safety data collection and reporting framework. This will go into creating a minimum data set where we will have harmonised data across the country. That is the aim and it is fully supported by the States and Territories. This is really important work that has been undertaken to have the data that we need to be able to underpin the decisions that we're making around road safety.

BUSH: Will there be minimum standards across the board? You mentioned that it will be a harmonised hub.

BROWN: Yes, and that's why we need the next stage. The collection and reporting framework will deliver minimum standards.

BUSH: And will it be an increase in the amount of data that is collected and kept within this hub? Senator - like that hospitalisations, etc, serious injuries.

BROWN: There is a significant amount of data that is already reported. The issue is as you've already identified, is how the data has been collected and how it is reported. It is our intention through discussions with States and Territories to have as much data as we possibly can.

BUSH: So, Senator you mentioned too that since you've come into government that you have been doing a lot of work in the space of road safety. What else has been happening?

BROWN: When we first came into government we re-established the road safety ministerial meetings. We've already had three of those across the country and we have, as a matter of urgency, the Albanese Government will host a national road safety conference. We have also put together the road safety action plan that underpins the national road safety strategy, which is signed up to by the State and Territories. Part of that work, the work that I have been talking to your about – The data sharing agreement comes from the action plan that we put in place that had been had not been progressed until we came into government. So, there's a lot of work. We have also increased funding for road safety programs.

BUSH: Senator Brown, are you confident that the work that you're doing will in fact bring down the road toll?

BROWN: The road toll is a national tragedy. What we are seeing is an increase in some disturbing trends. That is why the Albanese Government will host a national road safety conference in the first quarter of this year. The aim of the conference is to bring together road safety ministers and police ministers across country to discuss the road safety trends. It is a very important meeting. It's a meeting that's being supported by all States and Territories across the country. All governments are obviously doing as much work as possible to bring down the road toll. Every death on our road is a tragedy. The strategy that we have in place and our vision is to have zero deaths on our roads and zero serious injuries.

BUSH: Senator Brown, thanks so much for joining us on the program this morning.

BROWN: Thanks Mel.