Grievance Debate - Mobility Scooters

Wednesday September 22, 2021

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (16:07): I rise to give thanks to a local resident Laurie Mann, who has certainly opened my eyes to a few issues around mobility and some of the barriers he has been facing. Laurie is a returned serviceman. He has Department of Veterans' Affairs assistance and he has a mobility scooter.

The problem is that Laurie moved to Mount Gambier. Where he came from, they did not have the 110 kilogram unladen rule for his mobility scooter, so he was able to receive one through Department of Veterans' Affairs. Having come to South Australia, we have a 110 kilogram unladen limit and this is causing difficulty because the 110 kilo scooters are so small and cramped.

He has had a hip issue as a result of his service, and getting in and out of that smaller scooter provides great difficulty. Laurie was also very generous to work with me and our local council—Barbara Cernovskis, who is a wonderful member of our community and also council—and do a tour of Mount Gambier to point out dangerous gutters and ramps up onto gutters, something you do not even think about as a person just walking the streets, as I have done for 48 years. Actually, probably not 48 years, because I was not walking from birth, but for a fair period of time.

When Laurie pointed out gutter inclines that are out of spec or certainly not wide enough, you can see the difficulty that people have. He was telling stories of little kids having fallen out of their prams because of the gradient, as well as the extreme narrowness of some of the ramps from the gutters because they have been there for probably 50 or 60 years and have not been looked at.

The council are certainly on board and they are putting together a plan to upgrade those footpaths and ramps, as well as greater services for our vision-impaired. He pointed out the tactile markings on the footpaths and how people with vision-assistance canes or implements can use that to determine where bus stops are and a whole range of things that I found incredibly enlightening, and I thank him for that.

That led me on a bit of a journey on how we get this 110 kilogram unladen piece of legislation changed. I thank the Minister for Transport, and we have had a discussion around this. What I thought might have been an easy fix turns out to be a much harder one, but we will commit to work together to make that happen.

One of the things I came across was the 'National Transport Commission's discussion paper on barriers to the safe use of motorised mobility devices'. This has now led me to put in a private member's motion, which I have tabled. I think it is really important for people to understand that the 110 kilogram unladen mass is a barrier for people and disadvantages certain people in our community. The Executive Summary of the National Transport Commission's own document talks about the issues around the need to change the maximum unladen mass requirement for motorised mobility devices, and this would lead to certain benefits going forward.

Their recommendation, and it is in a discussion form, is 170 kilos, and that needs to be put through the Australian Road Rules committee or agreements. Another important thing they highlight is that if you do change the maximum unladen mass it may result in cheaper scooters because the manufacturers are not determined by that requirement.