Senator pleads for tighter gopher laws

Nationals Senator John Williams is calling for tighter regulation of gophers after his wife was hit by one in NSW last month.


Mr Williams’ wife Nancy needs a hip replacement after breaking her hip in the incident.

He said gophers should be restricted to a maximump speed of 6kph and only those with medical approval should be allowed to drive them at all.

“All I am trying to do is stop this from happening to someone else in Australia,” he said.

In WA, mobility scooter users are given the same rights as pedestrians under the Road Traffic Code 2000, and don’t need a licence or insurance as long as the device is limited to travelling at 10kph.

Queensland requires registration of all mobility scooters, but it is free and includes third-party insurance to cover any pedestrian injury.

An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission study of injuries involving mobility scooters in Australia found 442 people were treated at hospital between 2006 and 208, while 62 people died between 2000 and 2010.

Use of gophers is expected to increase, wtih the Australian Bureau of Statistics expecting the population aged 65 and above to rise from 14 per cent to 19 per cent by 2033.

WA Seniors Minister Tony Simpson and WA Disability Services Minister Donna Faragher refused to comment.

People with Disabilities WA president Greg Madson said footpath safety awareness was important.

“Ultimately there needs to be infrastructure in place that suits everybody’s needs,” he said.

Seniors community organisation Connect Victoria Park chief executive officer Luke Garswood said gophers helped many people.

“Any restriction should be very carefully considered against the negative impacts on people who are already facing social isolation,” he said.

Ronald Preston, 81, drives his gopher to the South Perth Senior Citizens Centre for lunch and said he did not think more regulation was required.

“I would feel offended if I was to be told you have got to sit for a license for a gopher,” he said.