The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) is saddened to hear that South Australian Senator Alex Gallacher has died after a battle with lung cancer. Senator Gallacher has been a champion of road safety throughout his career, including his 10 years serving in the Australian Parliament.
Before serving in Parliament, Senator Gallacher had been a truck driver and labourer. He became involved with the Transport Workers’ Union in 1988, and as secretary and treasurer of the TWU SA and NT branch in 1996. He took this deep understanding of the transport sector with him when he entered the Australian Parliament, and it underpinned his road safety advocacy, including in his role as the deputy chair of the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety.
ACRS President Mr Martin Small was Director Road Safety for South Australia when Mr Gallacher served on South Australia’s Road Safety Advisory Council.
On news of the Senator’s death Mr Small stated “Alex brought an immediacy to the Council table that reflected the impact of road crashes on the whole community, not just on his members and their families. He played a critical bi-partisan role in putting road safety back on the Commonwealth agenda, and establishing Parliamentary oversight of this major public health issue.”
In 2014 Senator Gallacher co-founded the Parliamentary Friends of Road Safety Group with the Hon Darren Chester MP for the purpose of elevating greater road safety awareness and to ensure the awareness of the enormous social and economic cost of failing to continually prioritise improved road safety outcomes.
Mr Lauchlan McIntosh AM, Chairman of Towards Zero Foundation and Chairman of Global NCAP, was President of ACRS at the time that Senator Gallacher co-founded the Parliamentary Friends of Road Safety Group.
Mr McIntosh expressed his respect for the senator stating “Senator Gallacher led and encouraged his parliamentary colleagues in Australia to recognise reducing road trauma was a complex and collaborative process. That view he also took as a member of the Global Network for Road Safety Legislators which in 2016 helped set the agenda for the United Nations to make road safety a high level issue. Many are alive and uninjured because of his advocacy. He and his leadership will be greatly missed. He was friend to us all. Vale Alex.”
Senator Gallacher clearly understood the urgency of reducing road trauma on Australian roads. In a speech delivered by Senator Gallacher in Parliament in October 2019 he stated “…there is an emergency besetting this parliament it’s in road safety—44,000 Australians are hospitalised each year, which is 100 each day.”
ACRS leadership and membership extends its condolences to Senator Gallacher’s family, friends, and colleagues. His contribution to road safety in, and outside of, Australia’s Parliament will be greatly missed.