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This website contains names and images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Navigate Senate Committees

National Safety Council of Australia, Poster, c1965, Museums Victoria

When the select committee was established, as committee chair Senator Kenneth Anderson pointed out, ‘every four hours of the day someone is killed in Australia as a result of a road accident’, and many more injured. Senator Anderson feared these numbers would increase with growing car ownership.

The committee travelled across the country to hear from witnesses, including motoring associations, car manufacturers, police and doctors. It found excessive speed was the single greatest cause of accidents, followed by human error.

The government did not act immediately on the 46 recommendations in the committee’s report, saying road safety was mainly a state responsibility. However, many recommendations were progressively implemented in the ensuing decades, the result of increased cooperation between federal and state transport ministers—which the committee had urged. Among them were nationwide uniform speed limits and signage, provisional licences, compulsory motorcycle helmets, drink-driving education, improved highways, roadworthiness inspections and stricter design standards for cars, including mandatory seatbelts.

Despite a larger population and widespread car ownership, Australia’s road toll has decreased since these measures were introduced.

Senator Kenneth Anderson, Australian Information Service, 1974

Reflecting a public consensus that action needed to be taken on road safety, government Senator Kenneth Anderson's motion to establish the select committee received strong support from all sides of politics.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Senator Nick McKenna praised Anderson’s motion, saying: ‘The appointment of such a committee at the Senate level should be a very potent factor in road safety propaganda…I wish the committee well and trust that it will bring in a report that will be a credit to itself, a matter of pride to the Senate and, above all, a matter of use and importance to the people of this country’.

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Kenneth Anderson, committee chair 1959-60, Interview with Mel Pratt, 1977

National Library of Australia, ORAL TRC 121/90, session 3, 00:01:58-00:07:00.
Full interview available at