“A debate we need to have,” says the NSW Transport Minister
The NSW Greens will push for seatbelts to be made mandatory on school buses following a crash that killed an eight-year-old boy.
Two other students remain in critical but stable conditions in hospital following the collision between the bus and a prime mover at Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, NSW Greens MP and transport spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said she was seeking government support to pass her bill requiring school buses to be fitted with seatbelts.
She said it was reported the boy had been thrown through a window upon impact.
"This is a shocking thing to hear and highlights the urgent need for seatbelts to be mandatory on school buses."
Ms Faehrmann said there had been repeated calls by parents for the government to make seatbelts mandatory.
A NSW government advisory committee had been considering the issue of school bus safety for almost eighteen months, but no recommendations had been made and no action taken, she said.
Ms Faehrmann said she intended to introduce her bus safety bill urgently and call on all parties to support it.
"All states except NSW and Victoria have made seatbelts on school buses mandatory - usually after a serious bus accident.
"It will be inexcusable if the NSW government still refuses to act," she said.
Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby has called for an inquiry into the crash and whether seatbelts should be made compulsory on school buses.
"Out of these horrible tragedies you often get good change," Mr Scruby said.
"I'm calling for an inquiry to see how we can improve safety in buses, particularly for school children.
"I'm writing to the coroner and asking if we can be heard at the coronial inquiry and I'll certainly be lobbying politicians to open the debate."
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said it was natural such a horrific incident would prompt discussion about safety.
"The experts agree this is an extremely complex matter."
The minister said that last year the NSW government formed the School Bus Safety Community Advisory Committee to examine the safe transportation of children in rural and regional NSW.
"I understand the independent committee will be in a position to hand its final report to the government in the near future.
"This is a debate we need to have."
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas said on Tuesday it was a case of waiting for the committee's expert report to come out rather than reacting "on the hop".
"They need to look at all aspects of it. We need to do it once and do it right."
Mr Kaldas said the costs needed to be assessed and how and where the seatbelts were fitted and into what buses.