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Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) Amendment Bill

9 February 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to indicate that the Greens also support the Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2022. Hearing all of the speeches, one thing is very clear: Labor loves to talk about rail. But talk is cheap. Whether or not they will put their money where their mouth is remains to be seen in terms of investing in the infrastructure upgrades that are required for our state's railway network.

I spoke recently in this chamber about the push for regional rail. My colleague, the Hon. Frank Pangallo, has spoken at considerable length about that. I do not intend to reventilate the arguments that he made—they are very compelling. I note that the chamber is full of Labor members. I hope that they were taking notes and will be following up on the important issues that the Hon. Mr Pangallo has raised because I am supportive of those concerns around regional rail and recognise, as does the community, how important that would be in terms of getting our rail network back on track.

The bill before us today is not talking specifically about regional rail; rather, it is looking at the issues of certificates of competence for rail workers and seeking to ensure that rail operations can continue under a state of emergency. The measures in this bill are valuable in ensuring the safe and continuous operation of rail networks across the state and, indeed, across the country. The first is to make it an offence to falsify a certificate of competence. We have been advised that there are instances where this has occurred, and this is a significant risk to public safety.

Secondly, the bill seeks to allow an exemption to health and fitness requirements in the case of a declared emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic, as my colleagues have noted, has taught us lessons about circumstances where activities under an emergency or a disaster could be hindered by an existing law or regulation. This part of the bill provides some flexibility in cases where an emergency has been declared and will enable the rail workforce to continue their important work.

The Greens are always supportive of rail as a mode of transport. We recognise rail as being safe, reliable and accessible. Indeed, we have been calling for new and extended rail networks across South Australia, particularly into regional areas. We are satisfied that the provisions in the legislation will enable the continuous safe operation of rail. With those very brief remarks, I commend the bill.