Motor Vehicles (Trials of Automotive Technologies) Amendment Bill

In Parliament - Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (16:59:25): I also rise today to speak in support of the Motor Vehicles (Trials of Automotive Technologies) Amendment Bill 2015, but only briefly. I put on the record that this bill relates purely to the trials of autonomous vehicles and not to any commercial legalisation.

South Australia was once known as a state of pioneers and pioneering innovations. We were founded by free settlers and we have always been willing to experiment with new ideas. South Australia has in the past, and should once again in the future, be the laboratory of democracy. Former US Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis once said, 'A state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.' To that list I would add technological experiments as well. An example of technological experiments which benefited the state was during the 20th century when South Australia was home to weapons and rocket testing at Woomera, which is where the origins of our defence state reputation began.From this early investment, there were many flow-on projects, such as the submarine and defence shipbuilding industries. As a consequence, thousands of defence jobs have been created in this state over many decades. By being an early mover under the Playford Liberal and Country League government, South Australia's position as a leader in defence technologies was definitely cemented.

Driverless cars are part of the modern age and are here to stay. We must adapt our laws to new technologies to make sure that they do not hamper new developments. I believe driverless transport will revolutionise passenger transport and the road freight industries in the years to come. On the motoring front, South Australia is home to many pioneering firsts. The first driver's licence in Australia was issued in Adelaide in 1906. That goes to show how long the government has been interfering in people's lives. Of course, Adelaide is the home of Holden for a little bit longer, the first of all Australian motor vehicles being built in this country.

In 2015, some 109 years since the first driver's licence for a car was issued, another first is coming, and of course that is to approve driverless cars. I commend the minister for that. Would it not be great if, in time, South Australia still had a motor vehicle industry on the back of these new technologies? It is unfortunate that the government still does not have, to my mind, a concrete plan for workers in the northern suburbs who are going to miss out as a result of car manufacturing ceasing in this state. Hopefully, in time, investment and development in driverless cars will lead to a new car industry in South Australia. However, as the member for Hartley alluded to in his speech, we need more than just legislation that allows driverless cars; we need investment, IP and R&D into this area.

I wholeheartedly support the introduction of a trial of driverless vehicles. There is no doubt that most fatalities on our roads are caused by driver fatigue or error, whether that be drink or drug driving, inattention or fatigue. Driverless cars do have the capacity to bring our road toll to zero in time. They also have the capacity to free up labour in the transportation field and to be utilised in new and emerging industries.

As a concept, driverless vehicles have certainly been well received by the industry in South Australia: SARTA and Steve Shearer of that organisation have been supporting it; Cohda Wireless definitely see a potential here for South Australia, which is wonderful; Flinders University is right behind it and are certainly pioneers in this area at the moment; Carnegie Mellon is another academic facility that is right behind it; and the RAA is also very supportive.

While there are many benefits of driverless cars, I think there will be early teething problems, which is to be expected. That is what we saw when the minister's car hit the stationary kangaroo, but I am sure in time those types of issues will be resolved. While the benefits of driverless cars will be here in due course, we must remember that, as parliamentarians, as the member for Kaurna related, we do have a duty. For me, my paramount duty as a legislator is to ensure job creation for South Australia. Jobs are the most important thing and I would love to see some more evidence as to how driverless automation will lead to further growth in South Australia.

As I spend my time in this house, so much of the time that we use in debate is used to talk about things such as changing the time zones, and all these other types of distractions. They are not always focusing on jobs, so I would encourage this government to spend as much of its time putting its energies into job creation, not job diversions and, as always, let's talk about the real issues that count for South Australia.