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‘Buckle up’ overdue on rural school buses

Thousands of children across Australia would be made safer everyday if governments delivered on their promises for seatbelts on rural school buses, Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said today.

Senator Milne's announcement was made as numerous football teams show support for Victoria's ‘Buckle Up' campaign this weekend by wearing seatbelt sashes on their jumpers.

"Whether you are driving two minutes to the shops or driving all day, wearing a seatbelt is a major aspect of reducing our road toll.

"The Greens want the $40 million allocated for seatbelts on school buses spent in full and the safety of children in rural communities throughout Australia recognised as an election priority.

"We all know that seatbelts save lives, and most of us buckle up without even thinking about it.

"This makes it all the more shocking that rural school buses are still largely without seatbelts despite a promise from the Howard and Rudd governments to spend millions on giving school children in regional areas a safe ride to school.

"Kevin Rudd matched the former government's promise to spend $40 million on fitting seatbelts to school buses, but to date, three years down the track, less than 10 percent of the funds have been spent. This is not good enough.

"We cannot wait for a death or serious injury to act as the impetus for spending this money. Now is the time to act.

"Safe transport to and from schools in all areas is a key feature of the Greens recently launched ‘Towards Zero' road safety plan.

"In it The Greens promise to drive investment in school bus safety by ensuring the funds for seatbelts are spent in full.

"I am calling on the community to ask their federal representatives why the money has not been spent, and to demand the equal treatment of rural school children throughout Australia.

"Aiming for zero deaths on our roads means looking at all risks. One death is too many and fails friends and families whose lives are devastated through losing loved ones on our roads."

Players from Essendon Football Club, Melbourne Victory, Bendigo Bombers, Bendigo Pioneers, Coburg Tigers and Oakleigh Chargers will all be wearing specially designed seatbelt jumpers in their games this weekend.

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