THE Greens will renew a push for changes that would make seatbelts mandatory on school buses following a bus crash at Singleton that killed a nine-year-old boy.
Greens upper house MP Cate Faehrmann has called on the government to fast-track the findings of an advisory committee that was established about 18 months ago to consider bus safety.
‘‘This is a terrible tragedy and our first thoughts are with the young boy’s family, friends and classmates,’’ Ms Faehrmann said.
The boy was thrown from the bus when it was hit by a prime mover at a Singleton intersection yesterday afternoon.
He died at the scene while his classmates screamed for help. Seven other children were injured.
‘‘This is a shocking thing to hear and highlights the urgent need for seatbelts to be mandatory on school buses,’’ Ms Faehrmann said.
She said the government should fast track the release of the advisory committee’s recommendations and its response following the crash.
Parents in regional areas in particular had long been concerned about the safety of children travelling on school buses, she said.
The Greens gave notice of a bill earlier this year that would make seat belts compulsory on school buses, and would urgently seek government support for it.
The committee was tasked in April last year with assessing the status of school bus safety in regional and rural parts of the state, and report back on the most effective ways to make buses as safe as possible.
In a statement this morning, Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said she was saddened to hear of the incident.
‘‘My deepest sympathy goes out to the young boy’s family and friends, classmates, and the Singleton community for their terrible loss. My thoughts are also with all others involved in the accident,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
She said it was ‘‘appropriate that we let the police and the coroner undertake their investigations to find out exactly what happened’’.
‘‘It is natural that an horrific incident such as this will prompt discussion about safety issues. The experts agree this is an extremely complex matter.’’
She expected the independently-chaired committee would hand its recommendations to the government soon.
‘‘This is a debate we need to have. Today, however, our thoughts are with the grieving family and the Singleton community,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Police this afternoon revised the age of the child killed in the accident after initial reports identified him as eight years old.
If you are feeling down, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
Renewed call for seatbelts
THE Singleton bus tragedy has prompted calls for seat belts on school buses as the Upper Hunter grieves the death of a young boy.
Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby has been campaigning for 15 years to have seatbelts installed on buses and said it was especially important to try to protect children.
"We really have got to rethink this now. Why should we think children are safer on a bus than in a car because its bigger," he said. "We should not let tragedies like this one go unnoticed."
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Mr Scruby said he would continue to lobby the state government to have seatbelts installed on buses.
Upper Hunter MP and Tourism Minister George Souris said he was devastated by the accident.
"I know that the police are investigating the circumstances of this accident and will report to the coroner as soon as possible," he said. "In the meantime, I want to offer the families of all those affected whatever support they might need in these trying times."